Global Council for Tolerance and Peace

“Food”… and family life

Dr. Antoine Chartouni

Dr. Antoine Chartouni

Who of us does not love food? It is a basic need for the life of every human being, but its importance isn’t limited to keeping our bodies healthy: Aside from it being a physiological need, it is also a psychological need.

Is food only intended to keep us alive? Or do we hold within us other unconscious significances for food? What is the psychological understanding in the life of a human being? And is the pleasure of food essential in our daily lives?

From the first minutes of our lives… until adulthood!

After birth, the newborn shows his need for food. He demands breastfeeding automatically. This extremely important stage is called the “oral stage”. It starts right after birth, and extends until approximately the 12th month of the baby’s life, during which all the baby’s attention is focused on food, and his relationship with his mother starts to materialize psychologically and physically.

Thus, psychologists consider breastfeeding an essential activity in forming the baby’s personality. It is worth mentioning here that psychological and eating disorders for children go back to the “oral stage”.

In fact, a short or a prolonged breastfeeding period has psychological explanations: Fast weaning in the absence of any essential medical cause, where the mother stops breastfeeding her baby because she doesn’t want to, occurs with mothers with higher narcissi personality than those who breastfeeding for longer periods of time.

As for women who don’t want to stop breastfeeding their children, this delay shows their great care for their children, and for protecting them.

After childhood, food becomes a vital need for the human being. It provides him energy to heat up and to move, and also helps him prevent and cure from diseases and developing, replacing and repairing cells and tissues.

Moreover, food has a vital importance in managing the body’s hormonal and chemical functions, and in strengthening the immune system against many viruses and diseases.

What is the importance of eating with the family?

Eating with the family is an indication and a sign of the strength or weakness of the relationship between the members, and of the communication between them. One of the questions that the family is asked when visiting a psychologist is: “Do all family members eat together?”

We can summarize the importance of eating with the family by the following:

– It is a meeting between all family members, and an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings between members.
– Sharing food with family members gives a sense of psychological and emotional stability to the entire family.
– Sharing meals strengthens the relations between all the family members through discussing important decisions between the parents and the children.
– It promotes the sense of belonging, which makes the child feel secure and confident.
Parents can promote his feeling when they ask their child to help them set the table and clean up before and after having the meal.
– It’s an opportunity to teach some social manners and behaviors to the kids: Table manners, respecting silence while eating, chewing correctly…)
– Sharing meals with the family promotes social concepts for children: Such as loving the others, respecting and giving help for those who need it, and sharing meals with brothers and sisters …
– While the parents share a meal with their children, they discover their kids’ repugnance from certain types of food, and they can modify that behavior with acceptable healthy habits.

Sharing meals with “people”… once a day

From a young age, parents should make sure to share meals, and not start eating before all family members are present. It is important to share with all the family members the types of dishes the mother will prepare during the week. So meal time should be a time to enjoy the taste of the dishes, and stay away from fighting, screaming and scolding.

Parents may put some calm music during lunch, or add some fun to eating meals through asking questions and telling a few jokes… The family can also eat out once or twice a month (at a restaurant, a public garden or a forest…).

At last, the most important thing in this article is staying away from technology. So all the family members, no matter how busy they are with their preoccupations, duties and responsibilities, must stay away from cell phones and such devices, as well as newspapers of all kinds while eating with the family, to dedicate their time for one thing, which is talking with the children.

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