Watching TV and sitting at the computer is fattening, if you eat in front of the screen. It’s time to examine our eating habits and consider how best to repair them.
Most people agree that eating in front of the computer or TV leads to overeating. We unconsciously reach for another handful of that salty snack, another cookie, or another heaping forkful from an overloaded plate. We sit for long minutes or even hours afterward, instead of getting up and moving around to burn off some of the calories we just took in. Eventually, the mirror reflects a version of ourselves that we don’t recognize.
We might look up from a novel describing an old-fashioned family dinner, where parents and children meet over familiar dishes to catch up, argue, laugh, just observe each other. Each meal in the novel adds another brush stroke to a timeless family portrait. It makes us think – how long has it been since we’ve eaten a stress-free family meal, with no interruptions from cellphones and without the burble of the TV in the background?
At this time of year, we think about the sustainable Succah, realizing that there’s another dimension to sustainability. Families must be sustained too – not just economically, but in the connection between parents and children, and siblings to each other. Meal times are perfect for investing in the family. Why waste the opportunity by sitting down alone in front of a screen?
We Googled “eating in front of the computer” to read what folks had to say about it. It was sad to read a comment on one forum: “Oh yeah, I read about that. It’s supposed to be better to eat together once a day. No phones or TV. But it doesn’t seem to work.”
They “read about that?” It doesn’t take much more effort to set a table and tell everyone that lunch (or dinner) will be ready in half an hour at the table. Even a quick, simple meal, consumed inside of twenty minutes, creates a family experience. The act of getting up and carrying the dishes back to the kitchen is a communal effort, although nobody thinks of it that way. Plus – it gets everyone up and walking around, instead of stashing a snack bowl away at arm’s length for later.
Our Internet search brought other reasons to avoid eating in front of the screen. One blogger reminds us how many bacteria are on the keyboard: eating while typing will inevitably transfer a lot of those into your mouth. Spilled food and crumbs around the desk and floor also encourage noxious visitors like cockroaches and ants. And everyone had something to say about the inevitable weight gain.
If your usual mealtime companion is the computer, think again. Invest in your own health and your family connection. And naturally, singles also need to eat life-affirming meals. Instead of a quick nosh, plan a 10-minute kitchen session scrambling eggs, toasting good bread, slicing up a hearty salad. Turn off all the devices and machines. Sit down to eat in comfort – enjoy each bite. Commune with the others if you’re in company, or with yourself if alone. Then get up, nourished in more ways than one, and take a short walk or do some stretches before returning to the working world.
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