The resurgence of family mealtimes

We are a wife and husband team, with 2 young boys.

I was raised within a family of 5 and family mealtimes were an inherent part of my family life; every evening meal was spent as a family and on a Sunday our dining table was full to capacity with other family or friends, all sharing a wonderful home-cooked roast dinner with all the trimmings.  On becoming a parent to 2 boys, it was important for me to uphold the same values of family mealtimes.

I was shocked to learn that 80% of households never sit down for a meal together, and most don’t even have a dining table.  When dining out as a family, we would often see whole families eating in silence whilst scrolling through their mobile phones.  We didn’t want this for our family and wanted to keep mealtimes a special event.

At the heart of The Wood Life Project’s core values is the emphasis on the family home and connection.  The products are beautifully designed and tactile.  The children’s plates encourage fun and engaging mealtimes.

Traditionally, family mealtimes were sacred, a time when all the family would sit together, to reconnect by sharing news of their days and to eat healthy, wholesome food.

It is often considered that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets in the world, but is it solely related to the food that promotes longevity and quality of life?

It is common practice for Mediterranean mealtimes to last for well over 2 hours.  They are big events where immediate family, cousins and friends come together to talk and eat and talk some more, enjoying food which has been prepared with love and care.

In comparison, the average time spent to eat a meal in the UK is 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, the pressures of modern-day living have introduced a plethora of distractions; mobile phones, social media, video games to name but some of the biggest offenders to family mealtimes – with parents often eating once children are in bed, and meals being rushed in front of a screen.

There are many detrimental effects of not eating together as a family.  For children these include a 40% likeliness to be overweight or dependent on drugs and alcohol as well as poor academic performance.

Research into eating alone has suggested the practice can be linked to depression, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. A survey of 8000 adults conducted by Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research for Sainsbury’s suggested eating alone has a stronger link to being unhappy than any other factor except mental illness.

Looking back to when lockdown was in full-swing, many of us were longing to feel more human connection as we had been deprived for so long. We were seeking more comfort and we were battling with our mental health more than ever.

Perhaps this is the time would have changed some past habits and many have reverted to tradition, being more ‘Mediterranean” and reaping the countless, enriching benefits that family mealtimes promote; eating healthier, more nutritious food, building enriching relationships and connections with those we eat with, improving our physical and mental health and happiness.

We truly hope that this tradition will have been re-built and form part of our everyday family life again.