Like puppies, our eating habits and food tastes derive largely from what our mothers taught us. If they fed us fries and takeout chicken, chances are we will continue through adulthood to prefer meals made up primarily of greasy foods loaded with salt … unless we study food guides and adapt to new foods and meal regimens.
A 10-photo series titled, “How We Eat Alone,” published in a recent Huffington Post, reveals much about today’s younger generation and their mealtime customs.
In the first photo snapped at 8:13 p.m., a 20-year-old model “concentrates on her food while reviewing her busy day.” Her food consists of a substantial whole wheat sandwich, five mini carrots, and a glass of water. No milk. No fresh fruits or veggies. No nuts. Her right hand holds the glass of water while her left hand is poised to text.
In another photo, a 28-year-old musician has a 1:20 a.m. meal following drum rehearsals. Wielding chopsticks in the air, he sits before a table laden with an array of deli take-out containers typical of The Big Bang Theory. His attention is on a computer screen. A standby cell phone waits inches away.
At 6:54 p.m., a designer sitting cross legged on her bed pecks at a meal of leftovers as she watches her favourite TV show. Except for a few peas, her entire meal appears cooked and colourless. Again no fresh fruits or veggies.
In another late night scenario, three architects remain at their conference table which is buried under documents and drafts stuffing themselves on pizza and beer. Nothing hints of camaraderie, savouring of the pizza, or relaxation. An occasional pizza or beer is fine but when it becomes the norm, it can lead to sleepless nights, sleeping pills, obesity and a dependence on laxatives.
Granted, no identifiable sweets or pastries crowd these scenes. But all of these meals lack eye appeal and the recommended variety of food groups to maintain a healthy body.
The photo most revealing of a family’s dynamics pictures a 13-year-old girl sitting on her bed eating her favourite Italian food prepared by her father, while she watches a TV show on her laptop. She lives with her father and her stepmother yet she eats alone in her bedroom? Why?
Is it by her choice? Is there family friction? Do her parents avail themselves of a mealtime gathering to grill the daughter on her grades, her choice of friends, her wardrobe selections?
My impressions of today’s families come from reading, watching news items, and a cross-section of TV shows and advertisements. The impression I have is that too many families live separate lives under a single roof.
Parents work long hours to pay for hockey memberships, dance lessons, and other cultural activities for the kids when what the kids might crave most is time to talk with mom and dad, to toss a ball around in the backyard or watch a TV show together.
When a father is so out of touch with his teens he can’t name their favourite TV show, movie, or snack food, a huge gulf separates dad from his offspring. Both could benefit from shared activities.
That’s why I was so taken watching a grandfather walk hand in hand with his three-year-old granddaughter on their way to the public library. Three Tuesday forenoons in a row these two crossed Davis Avenue on their way to the library as I unlocked my truck parked on Market Street. In the morning quiet, their lively conversation carried clearly as they avoided stepping on sidewalk cracks like Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets.”
Bet Grandpa knows her favourite toy, cartoon and colour.