In the harried lifestyle we live, one of the first casualties can be dinnertime.Everyone is busy, the schedules are different, the TV is on and the phone is ringing. So many nights' dinners are eaten on the run, or in front of the TV screen.
But we forget the high price in terms of health and happiness that is being paidwhen dinners are undermined. Besides, a lot can be gained when dinner times are treated as special times. Treat your dinnertime as a sacred time for you and yourfamily and you will see the rewards right away.
1. Pray before you eat
Besides the obvious advantage of offering a prayer before we eat, it also gives a couple of minutes to quiet down before we begin. In Ayurveda it has been said that it is not only what you eat, but also when you eat, what kind of emotional status you are in when you eat, and whom you eat with helps us digest our food better. So by doing a small prayer will help you calm down and see dinner as what it really is - a ritual.
2. Offer the food to the deity of your choice
This is similar to the point made earlier. Offering your food to the family deity can bring a sense of sacredness to your meals. In Hindu philosophy, food (anna)holds a sacred place. Treating food that is going to nourish you, with respect makes sense. This is especially important for young children to learn in times when their choice seems to rule on the dinner table.
3. Turn off the TV/ Turn on soft music
Another obvious yet rarely practiced habit is to turn off the TV while eating dinner. If your household is one such household, practice it for a week and see how much difference it makes. You will find that every one is paying attention to what they are eating. Even the dinnertime talk seems to take better shape when the environment is quiet. Tell everyone that dinner is a special time and you insist that it should be treated as such.
4. Do not eat until hungry
While this should be something natural, we learn to eat at any odd time. One way to accomplish this is to make sure that at least one or two hours before dinner there is no snacking. This can be slightly difficult to adhere to if your children are very little, or if they are used to eating snack at anytime or if you come home from work late and the dinner is a few hours away but if you can make this possible, you reap good results.
5. Wash hands before eating
Another small ritual but a good habit nonetheless. Every one should only go to the dinner table after washing their hands. Washing your hands not only help you in getting rid of the germs and bacteria but also puts you in the clean mood to enjoy the food you are about to have.
6. Place fresh flowers or light candles on the table whenever possible
Often flowers from your own garden can do the job. They do not have to be very expensive or special but a small bunch of flowers make the environment much nicer to eat in. If flowers are not practical, light a candle.Think about it. All day we work so that we can have a nice meal at the end of the day and a healthy body through out our lives. So make that meal a special thing that you do at the end of the day.
7. If you have a pet, feed him first
It has been said that by offering your food to someone before you consume it, you are contributing to the world around you. So if you have a pet, make it a routine to feed him first.
8. Do not eat standing up
Sitting down to eat makes your meals special. It also helps if you are trying to lose weight. Treating your food with respect will make you more aware of how much you eat and when.
9. Decide a dinner topic ahead of time
This works very well if your family consists of young, school-going children. Pre-assign dinner topics such as current events every Monday, new science invention every Tuesday and have everyone say something about the topic. Be careful not to turn this into a one-sided lecture. There is so much learning that happens through these topics. Be creative about these topics: music, science, politics, family, health, and food.... the list can be endless.
10. Refrain from criticizing the food
Although this is obvious and has been covered in the points above, I wanted to bring special attention to this. For one, this happens more often than not. It should be a ground rule in any family that whoever has prepared this food has put a lot of time, energy and love into the food. Criticizing the food is like insulting someone who has gone out of his or her way to make this food for your consumption.
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