What Happened To The Dinner Table?


Studies show that families who sit down to regular meals together tend to eat better. Most of us these days are pulled in so many different directions with work, family and extra activities that it doesn’t leave much time to get into the kitchen to cook or eat together. Both parents often work outside of the home and trying to coordinate the different schedules within a family can be very hard.

Healthy families, don’t just happen, they take time, love and effort. Regular family dinners have been positively linked to higher academic performance.  By sitting around a table with no technology (and that includes no phones or ipads!) means that there should be no interruption, which is rare on a busy day.  Children find the time and place to talk with their parents and to be heard by them every day. They can count on it. This is the ideal time to listen to your kids, who may have something important to say.

If I ask my son Ben how school was all I will get is a ‘good’ but when we sit at the table together I ask him specific questions about his day and once he starts talking, there’s no stopping him, often I have to remind him to eat!

The dinner table is where a family culture is nurtured—around the table night after night for both serious & casual conversation. This time is crucial. We must come together for a time every day to talk to each other, to be with each other, to give the priority of a quantity of quality time to family.

Here are some tips to help you get back to the table with your family”

  • You don’t need to be a gourmet cook – Simple foods served with love and laughter will outshine gourmet goodies almost any time.   Slow cookers, make ahead meals, and some careful planning make life easier.  I make most of my meals ahead of time at the weekend, I just don’t have the time during the week. If I don’t do this mealtimes can be very stressful and something less healthy!
  • It Doesn’t Have to Be Hot to Be Healthy – Tuna sandwiches, a salad and some fruit salad can be just as healthy for your family as something you slaved over at the stove.
  • Focus on Food Choices Vs. Forcing Food – allow children to eat until they’re full without forcing ‘one more bite’ or a clean plate.
  • Start Slow, Learn as You Go – Don’t try to go from no meals to nightly meals. Start with one meal together weekly. Find what works for your family and go from there.
  • Take Turns Talking With a “Talking Stick” – If everyone in your family talks at once, borrow the “talking stick” idea.  Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk. You might have a “talking cup” or other special item that gets passed around.
  • Don’t Answer The Phone During Mealtime – How often are your meals interrupted by the phone? Be present with your children and be in that moment.
  • Turn Off The TV – Encourage your kids to be present in their own lives too. Studies show that eating in front of the tv, computer or other device leads to mindless eating and weight gain.
  • Get Children Involved in Making Meals – Children, especially younger children, tend to tune in more to meals they help prepare.
  • Cook it Quick But Eat it Slow – Check out the many cookbooks and Internet resources that give tips for putting together healthy meals in a hurry, but be sure to allow enough time to eat slowing, savour the meal, and enjoy the company of family.

If you don’t have the time to plan your meals, let me do the hard work for you. I will design meal plans specifically for you and your family leaving you with more time to spend with each other. If you are interested, contact me at melanieg@wowweightloss.ca to discuss.

No More Eggs For Sam!

When it comes to my kids and food, I am very lucky. Both my boys LOVE food (must take after me!). Ben has never been a picky eater except for one phase when he was about 3 he decided he didn’t like cheese or creamy sauces, that didn’t last long and now he will eat anything, salads, sushi, curry even my cabbage & broccoli delight! Sam seems to be following suit as he will eat anything I put in front of him.

Food allergies & sensitivities are very common these days but haven’t been a part of my family until recently. I had given my youngest Sam egg yolk when he was about 10 months and no problem but I held out giving him the egg white until he was 1 year as this has a higher allergic potential than the yolk. The first couple of times there were no issues then one day at breakfast we were eating scrambled egg and I noticed some red blotches appear on Sam’s chin and around his mouth (see picture). They went away after a couple of hours but it was enough to get me thinking.


Sam blotchy face photo

Later that week I was making fishcakes and I used one egg between 5 fishcakes. Sam had only taken 2 bites and the red blotches came back again so I have decided to eliminate eggs from Sam’s diet for now as I believe that was the culprit.

This is why, when introducing foods to babies and children it’s very important you introduce one new thing at a time, that way you are able to see if there are any reactions and it is easy to determine which food is causing the reaction.

There are two different kinds of food sensitivities – food allergy and food intolerance. Often times they are confused because they are both reactions to foods that we eat and some of the symptoms can be very similar. However, it’s worth taking a moment to distinguish their differences.

Food Allergy

It is an immune system response – the body thinks that the food you ingested (most likely a protein in the food) is a harmful substance and it creates antibodies to defend against it. Symptoms depend on where the antibodies and histamine are released, and they can include rash or hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airway and even anaphylaxis.

Peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds), shellfish, milk, eggs, soy products, and wheat are the most common triggers for food allergies. Adults and children who are allergic to aspirin can also be allergic to foods that contain salicylates – such as many fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, juices, beer, and wine.

Food Sensitivity

It is a digestive system response – the digestive system is unable to properly digest some substance in the food, or the food irritates the digestive tract. Most symptoms of food intolerance are confined to the GI tract, including nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, vomiting, heartburn, and diarrhea, with the exception of headache and irritability or nervousness.

There are a few ways to find out if certain systemic or digestive issues are triggered by food sensitivities, contact your friendly Nutritionist (me 🙂 ) to discuss different options if you think this could be an issue with your kids or yourself.