RITUALS AT MEALS
from Feeding Your Baby the Healthiest Foods by Louise Lambert-Lagacé page 12
Copyright © 2000 Louise Lambert-Lagacé
Fitzhanry & Whiteside Limited, 195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, L3R 4T8 Canada
“Food rituals are shaped over the years and become
a thread of warmth and love.”
FOOD ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH
Total environment plays a vital role in the proper development of even a houseplant. Water and light are not the only factors that make it thrive. Total environment also affect your child's growth and development and can go beyond feeding the right kinds and amounts of foods. Affection from loving family members needs to supplement the daily menu and is essential to the most favorable environment.
The association between food and the socio-affective environment has been the subject of considerable research in Latin America, in studies looking for ways to minimize the effects of malnutrition on young children. One of these studies looked at weight gain and the health status of two groups of infants living in the same village in Guatemala. One group received supplementary foods for the first six months, while the control group did not. The supplemented babies came from larger, poorer, and less educated families. They gained less weight and were sick more often during the six-month period than the non-supplemented babies. The extra food did not compensate for the lack of human interaction these babies endured in their disadvantaged environment. This extreme example shows the valuable contribution of attention and affection to the total nourishment of a baby.
Among several rituals that affect family bonds, eating meals together was rated among the most important in a survey published in the nineties. Rituals mean security, and rituals feed the soul; families shape our soul.
Taking time to eat is an important value to pass on. Sharing meals with others is more than swallowing the proper amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Meals become social events that provide much more enjoyment than eating alone. Even with different timetables, sharing meals with your child at least a couple times a week should be a priority—to provide precious doses of family interaction.
Food represents nurture, consolation, constancy, survival, ethnic solidarity, and ties with the past.