Food and Its Influence on Family Life

Have you ever smelled or eaten food that instantly brought you back to a specific time in the past? Or made you remember the person you were with when you last ate it? If you stop and think about it, you probably associate some of your favorite foods with family memories.

Food has been around for as long as we have. It plays a role in every physical, recreational, and relational area of our lives; family being the most important and highly influenced by food.

Let’s take a look at three ways that food influences our family life:

Preserves culture

A culture is defined by its food. And each family has their culture passed down from one generation to the next.

Our way of producing food may differ depending on the geography or climate that we live in. Food preparation including the tools we use to cook may vary as well. In the US, food has become as diverse as the people. Asian cuisine does a lot of stir frying and steaming. Mediterranean cuisine, on the other hand, makes use of this core trio: oil, bread, and wine.

Each culture has its own unique recipes as well, depending on the produce and animals that are available in that country or region. Americans have burgers. Italians have pizza. Filipinos have lechon or whole roasted pig. The Spanish have paella. And the English have Yorkshire pudding.

Family functions and/or social gatherings demonstrate all these. It is a time for both young and old to cook together and enjoy food that is truly their own.

Nurtures the family’s bond

Family meal time is essential to strengthen the relationship of parents to children as well as sibling to sibling.

According to Professor Deborah Lupton of the University of Canberra in Australia, food sharing is a vital component of kinship networks and the home; the family meal has a deep emotional and social significance in establishing coherence and solidarity, as well as operating to socialize young members.

Food from our family often becomes the comfort food we seek as adults in times of frustration and stress. It is something we go back to especially when we become homesick.

Establishes eating practices

It is important to establish healthy eating practices or habits early on in a child’s life. It is equally important that they maintain this throughout their growing years.

Parents should be able to provide healthy and enjoyable food choices to their children so as not to entice them to eat junk. This is a very practical way to prevent lifestyle diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. They should also cultivate good experiences around food to prevent eating disorders that may stem from stressful or painful memories involving family meal time.

There are a lot of factors that may make this a bit challenging nowadays, especially with our busy, on-the-go lifestyles. But it is something that we should work on to ensure that our food and family life remains healthy and enjoyable.

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