More on meals

Thanks for taking time to answer my little survey yesterday afternoon! I had been meaning to get back to the post and expand it a bit, but with invigilating, and then running back to the office - and then checking the internet for updates on the horrific situation in London - it fell by the wayside. (I hope those you know in London are safe?)

So what got me started on that train of thought - other than a more-than-vague guilt for not even possessing a dining-room table, nevermind using one? Oh, I do have an excuse - no space. But I'm sure we could find a way if we wanted to, like moving out to somewhere else...

Well, I happened to drop by the Oprah site (yeah I know Chitty, I'm a bad girl) and saw something on how French women stay so slim while consuming all those wonderful cheeses, butter, sauces, chocolate, coffee - all the things the rest of us try to avoid, but STILL end up fat. Well, it mentioned a book written by a French woman, and from there of course Google got used, and it was just one downhill slide into reading all sorts of articles etc. As usual...!

But the upshot of it is this:

The French don't diet - they ENJOY their food. They take time out to eat the best they can, with everything fresh and/or home-made. No snacking, no fast food, no drinking yourself into a stupor (though they love their wine and cigarettes). Rather, meals are at a set time, 3 times a day, and are an event (much like a Mexican girl was talking about on Oprah a few days ago - part of a show on 30-year-old women around the world). Food is savoured with company, and it takes a long time to eat it. Portions are smaller but worth it. You rest between courses for interaction with your table mates.

And they walk more. (OK, that has nothing to do with food, but it's the main form of exercise it seems - and it works. That's how I lost weight on my Aussie trip, which I've now gone and more-than picked up again... sigh...)

The articles talked about the quality of the food - that things like pastries etc are not only smaller than the Western counterparts, but likely to be whole-grain, freshly-made and with a lot less sugar. Loads of fruit and veggies included, and very little artificial anything. As one woman said "the labels on your bread in America read like a list of insecticide ingredients!".

Growing up in my kid days, mealtimes were around the diningroom table. Every meal, if we could manage it - but ALWAYS supper/dinner. Even if dad was out doing church visitation stuff, he'd be home for supper. When we were all grown up and had other folk boarding with us, we STILL ate around the table. Often the poor boarders would be teased to death by the rest of us with our wacky sense of humour, but they gave as good as they got. My parents still eat at the table. The TV goes off and we gather for a "fully cooked meal". Mom likes to have at least 4 things on the plate.

But my son and I don't do that. We eat off our laps, sitting in the lounge (which is also my son's bedroom, and contains the freezer and phone table...yup, we're squashed in there). Most meals the TV is on and we pay very little attention to our food - wolfing it down in the least possible time, usually eating things that can be made in 10 minutes in one pot. On weekends we may get a bit fancier with the cooking, but my son's so used to the one-pot meals that I'm likely to get complaints. (The French train their kids from an early age to develop a palate for good adult food - I seem to have missed out on doing that)

But I miss the family meal times. I have this image in my head of a long table under summer-green trees, filled with family and friends gathered over a lengthy meal each day. It's an ideal in my mind - but I have neither the family nor the friends to fill the table, and the trees are lacking! :)

I keep telling myself, one day we'll have the space to eat at a table, and make a habit of it. What if one day never arrives? I miss the interaction over a meal, and my son has no idea what he's being deprived of.

It seems from the comments that not eating around a table has become the norm these days. And eating alone for the single folk, in front of the TV. It's pretty sad, isn't it, that meals are no longer an event to anticipate, a time to re-connect with those we love - that they've become cold and featureless times, stripped down to body-sustenance and nothing more.

I wonder if adjusting the way we view our meals could change our lives? Not only our weight and health, but our happiness and connectivity with those around us.

Something to think about.