family meals in the evening

(138 Posts)
applebread Sat 07-Sep-13 09:48:31

In a number of European countries it is normal for families to eat together in the evening with a proper meal of two or three courses. We sit down together and eat at the same table at the same time with cutlery and we all eat the sametthing except where a person has a special diet.

The meals do not need to take a long time to make. It may be something like a bit of fish and some steamed vegetables with a mousse after or a pasta dish then poached pears.

The time for eating together is seen as sacrosanct and it isununusual for people to prioritise other things instead of the meal in the evening. It is normal whether the parents work full time or not. The other thing is that with a proper meal that smacks are not so common and not normal (so toddler wandering around with sippy cup and raisins would be seen as odd).

From mn I read threads where posters say there is no tlme t to eat together and kids are fed special food different from adults and sometimes it is even a sandwich.

Although I have lived in the UK for my whole life I didn't encounter much of this in my childhood as I always ate with my family and when I was a student and in my early twenties I thought it was just people being busy and a bit rebellious making them choose not to eat traditional meals.

But I know that some of my dc friends have meals from the microwave all at different times and the children eat fishfingers and beans while the adults eat normal food .it is also very common to snack and especially for toddlers the dc nursery found it odd when I asked that the dc didn't snack between meals. I didn't insist on this in the end as it would have been difficult for them.

Aibu to think the uk way of eating patterns is less healthy and ddoesn't expose dc to family conversation and greatervvariety of food?

MrsMook Mon 09-Sep-13 08:14:22

We eat together at about 8pm. DH is rarely in before 7 and frequently after, but it's important to me that we sit together around a table and have conversation. DS is 2 1/2 and goes to bed around 8.30 to 9, and wakes around 7.30. It may need to be tweaked on timings in the future but at present it works well for us. A late time for eating and bed allows DS to nap around 4-6. If he napped earlier in the afternoon, it would write off several activities we do. Despite DS's allergies, we've usually managed the same adapted meal. Sometimes there are variations, but rarely something totally different.

It's important to me, partly because it was a family time growing up, and my friend's fragmented eating time put me off that concept. Her DF came home from work late, then went running so ate later. The DCS ate at around 6 and their mum had a partial meal/ snack, and then ate with the DF which contributed to her being overweight (and trying to diet). My friend was anorexic. I know what the root cause was, but I think the fragmented, incidental way that food/ meals was treated didn't help support a healthier attitude to food in the face of the other issues going on. I'm not convinced that a 2wk holiday of quality time was enough to compensate for 50 fragmented weeks a year.

ToysRLuv Mon 09-Sep-13 08:44:15

MrsMook: Having had anorexia myself, I don't like the way you speculate about the causes of someone's illness. Also, from all the materials I have ever read (loads), actual food is hardly ever mentioned. Anorexia is really not about food, as such. Finally, if you are referring to a lack of communication or togetherness (or perhaps to the stereotype/classic anorexia family set-up of meddling mother and distant father, which does carry some weight) - well, again, nothing to do with food or mealtimes. You can always eat together and still have issues. Why does communication and togetherness have to happen over a meal?

kilmuir Mon 09-Sep-13 08:50:41

British are lazy and moany. ' oooo but i am so busy' my mum had 2 jobs and always managed to cook a healthy meal for us. My dad worked shifts , so was not always there, so no help with children.

ToysRLuv Mon 09-Sep-13 08:55:05

I understand that for some families togetherness has to/is good to be "done" while eating, as if you are short on time it's really a bit of multitasking. Also, you often need an "excuse" to sit all together, so food is excellent for that.

ToysRLuv Mon 09-Sep-13 08:56:52

kilmuir: Yes, you're bang on! RT, ffs!

PaulSmenis Mon 09-Sep-13 09:01:12

I think a majority of UK families eat dinner at the table don't they? hmm

Last time I visited family in Europe, I couldn't get my head around why people would take so long eating a bloody meal. That, and all the kissing and stuff.

I like a good meal as much as the next person, but I've got stuff to get on with and don't want to spend ages over it.

pinkdelight Mon 09-Sep-13 09:09:51

Ha ha Tondelayo - spot on.

Also, on the healthiness aspect, seems like we're often being told stuff like five small meals, eating little and often, is better than a slap-up dinner every night too. And cheese is no better than a sweet pudding, so don't make health a smokescreen for your smuggery, OP.

Sorry to be harsh, but if you hadn't even considered shiftworkers, you hadn't thought it through very much at all.

MadeOfStarDust Mon 09-Sep-13 09:50:09

We eat together... mainly.... I work til 8 on Wed so leave something like cottage pie that the rest can have and I can have later... but generally we like to and can eat together...

Everyone is different.. I have a friend who's child has eaten a sandwich in the car on the way to dance classes for the past 4 years - ( she has school dinners too) ... I would not want to live like that, but her daughter just got a dance scholarship and they feel it was all worth it!

I think it's very important to sit at a table together eating socially often. The DC do not eat meals away from the table unless a picnic or other unusual circumstance. We never take food upstairs (including if ill).

But before DC2 we lived in a small flat. The only accessible table had a computer on it. British houses are famously the smallest in Europe. If you don't have a table to eat at, you can't eat at a table. One of the things we were looking for when househunting was an easy dining space. We'd have to walk past our dining table to get from the kitchen to anywhere else, which means we tend to have even a drink and a biscuit at the table.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Mon 09-Sep-13 10:22:46

I get home from work at 21.30. Should I keep my toddler up until then just so he can eat with us?

Eating at the table as a family may be the ideal but there are lots of reasons stated on this thread that means this is impractical. so there's no need for some of the smugness on here.

Incidentally my 19 month old stayed up to eat at 7pm last night, resulting in a grumpy, tired and hungry toddler. So if it's alright with you OP I'll let him eat earlier without us.

Silverfoxballs Mon 09-Sep-13 10:31:33

Good grief I have been giving dc some of that fancy Le Gouter malarkey without realising it at quatre heures for years.

SignoraStronza Mon 09-Sep-13 10:50:54

Ha ha ha ha!!!!grin ALL the Italian people I knew, if they did all eat at the same time, were glued to the telly blaring out with Berlusconi's latest mediaset offerings.
Mostly, the nanny/housekeeper/grandparents would cook something basic for the kids (who, if secondary school age, had grabbed a pizzetta on the way home anyway) and the parents would eat later when they got in from work.

MadeOfStarDust Mon 09-Sep-13 11:19:09

My best friend is Italian - if I suggested to her that she eat at the same time as her kids, she'd think I was nuts....

she runs her own business and eats at 9 with her hubby after the kids are in bed...

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