Saturday, November 14, 2009

Family meals: Nourishing the body, mind and soul

"Family meals: Nourishing the body, mind and soul"
Sun.Star Davao, Nov. 14, 2009

A few months ago, ‘Ate Shawie’ (a.k.a megastar Sharon Cuneta) reminded us about the value of family mealtime through Lucky Me’s striking FaMEALy Day TV commercial.

Lucky Me’s advocacy, “Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga”, believes that we should not underestimate the power of parenting during family meals. Studies show that “all in all, regular and frequent family dinners are associated with children’s better achievement scores, fewer behavioral problems, healthier diets and lower rates of smoking, alcohol use, drug use, early sexual behaviour and suicidal risk”. (Source:

With our busy schedules, how do we find time to eat regularly as a family? Learn from these Dabawenyo families who will share to you that family mealtimes are not only for feeding the body, but equally important, nourishing the mind and soul:

Lims’ love for food and family

Parents: Patrick David Lorenzana Lim, 39 (financial adviser/businessman) and Dr. Yvonne Catherine “Karen” Padilla-Lim, 38 (dentist)
Children: Yianna Patricia, 11 (grade 5), Karla Catherine, 9 (grade 3) and Joshua Gabriel, 7 (grade 1)
Favorite family activities: “We enjoy the outdoors – going up the farm in Kapatagan, Davao del Sur. We also love swimming in the pool”.
How often do you have meals together as a family? Patrick says,We often have dinner together as a family on schooldays. Breakfasts on Sundays are treasured, since we are all complete in our table. Right after the church service, we all convene in my parents’ house for the regular Sunday luncheon. The “traditional” Sunday lunch feast is a must, since we all (my brother and sisters, together with their families) gather for lunch at Lolo and Lola’s (my parents) house, where we all sit and feast together in a long table, while the 8 grandchildren (ages ranging from 7 to 21) eat together as well in Lola’s living room.”
Benefits of regular family mealtime: “The dinner table is where we show the kids that we have attentive ears to listen to their stories, experiences, and plans, and vice versa. The children get to hear our stories, our short to medium and long term plans for them. Having meals together as a family gives us parents an opportunity to show our children that we all learn from each other. As much as parents claim and think that children learn from us, we parents unintentionally learn from our children”.
Mealtime topics: “We normally talk about what they learned in school for the day, assignments, plans for the weekend, and other usual stuff. Our children laugh a lot at anything and everything. Many times, what they laugh at is not funny to Karen and I – but it is to them. Somehow, they see the humor in almost anything; their way of discovering life. Here, Karen and I are reminded that if we want to enjoy our lives with the kids and keep a cheerful attitude, we are reminded to rediscover the child in us who loved to laugh.”
What do you wish to achieve by having regular family meals? “Our children will simply reflect the kind of learning they see from us parents. If we parents are polite, willing to learn, listen, and show a good attitude towards life, our children will be the same because they see it in us parents. And, these are normally shown in the dinner table. I do not believe that having “quality time” with our children is best; it is the quantity of time that we give and show to them that really counts, because they will always see and learn from the “mirror image experience” from us parents.”

Nourishing the Navarros
Parents: Ronnie Navarro, 48 (mechanical engineer/businessman) and Joy Mateo-Navarro, 42 (real estate broker)
Children: Taryn Mae Navarro,13 (1st year high school) and Thyra, 10 (grade 4)
Favorite family activities: “We definitely love to eat. Ronnie is our cook. He loves to experiment different kinds of dishes and we just love to taste test everything he experiments. We love eating out as well; malling and shopping; outdoor activities like going to the beach; and travelling”.
How often do you have meals together as a family? “Very often. We always eat together. Ronnie doesn’t like it when the family members are not complete. It’s a family practice being observed ever since. That’s why the kids too look forward to every meal and the food being served”.
Benefits of regular family mealtime: “The bond is established. We get closer and you get to know each other well. We share stories, opinions and the lessons we learned, be it in school or in our daily lives. It’s a perfect time to impart moral and spiritual values. Since we talk anything under the sun, you get to know the views, the outlook of each family member. The kids grow up really fast and you will be surprised on how they view things. Since Ronnie is a comic, we always have a good laugh no matter how draining or stressed our day was”.
Mealtime topics: (Ronnie) “People we meet and the activities we do in relation to our work; (Joy) “We talk about anything”; (Taryn) “BJ, our Chihuahua, how he reacts every time we eat meaty meals” and (Thyra) “We usually talk about what we do in school.”
What do you wish to achieve by having regular family meals? “We wish to impart this to our children; that they would give importance to each family meal they would share together. When they grow up and have a family of their own, they would hopefully practice the same. One of the reasons why there are so many broken family relationships nowadays is because the family doesn’t just miss praying together but they do not eat together anymore especially while the kids are still small.”

Aquinos’ appetite for life
Parents: Miguel Luis Aquino, 45 (businessman) and Mylene Yap-Aquino, 40 (businesswoman)
Children: Marianne Louise, 16 (1st year college) and Miguel Mariano, 11 (grade 5)
Family activities: “We love to travel together, go to the mall and beach and eat out”.
How often do you have meals together as a family? “Because of the good quality of life in Davao, I’m so glad that our family gets to eat together for lunch and dinner everyday”.
Benefits of regular family mealtime: “It makes us closer as a family. It’s the best time for us to talk and really have a good conversation.”
Mealtime topics: “We discuss the news, current events, sports, entertainment, past experiences, travels, problems, etc.”.
What do you wish to achieve by having regular family meals? We would like to cherish being together as a family, sharing stories and laughing at each other’s jokes; to be able to open up and keep no secrets from each other.”

Wongs on whipping up meals and conversations
Parents: Christopher Wong, Jr., 40 (supervisor) and Charisse Roque-Wong, 35 (housewife)
Children: Nicole Kyra , 11 (grade 5) and Zoe Andrea, 8 (grade 2)
Favorite family activities: “Watching DVDs; road trips; eating out and going to the beach”
How often do you have meals together as a family? “Because of the daily grind, it’s mostly breakfast and dinner on weekdays and the whole three meals on Sundays. They say that television is a conversation killer when placed in the dining room. I beg to disagree. Our family loves to eat, and we also love to converse. We have a television in our dining room and on some nights, our eyes are locked on the TV screen and, as we watch our favorite television shows, we progressively discuss what is going on, and when the girls ask why some particular events happened, we explain to them in a way that they can understand.”
Benefits of regular family mealtime: “We get to spend time with each other. Togetherness is very important to us. We get to see how our children are developing as mature individuals. In addition, we get to introduce new tastes and cuisines to our children. By eating together, we have the chance to explain to the kids why a particular dish tastes a certain way and the cultural highlights of where the dish originates from”.
Mealtime topics: “We usually tell each other of the day’s experiences, about classmates who said something interesting, about the kids’ competitions, Dad’s day at the store where he meets colorful and interesting clients, Mom’s hodge-podge of friends that she meets or talks to that day, the latest foreign movies and dishes that the kids want Mom to cook the next day. We also give advice to the kids, especially to Nikka, who is now a “tween” - on how to handle certain situations that confuse her, or some stuff that she doesn’t quite fully understand yet. Zoe tells us about her achievements in ballet and how much she enjoys the books that she borrowed from the school library.”
What do you wish to achieve by having regular family meals? We want to maintain the unity and togetherness of our family. No matter what life brings us, we will face every challenge and every surprise together as one.”

Kintanars in the kitchen
Parents: Noel Eli B. Kintanar, 46 (business executive) and Ella Ola-Kintanar, 49 (property manager)
Children: Tippy, 19 (2nd year college) and Leandro (3rd year high school)
Favorite family activities: “Exploring new cuisines and eating out; monthly movie date as a family; travelling, either as a family or with friends; conversations; beauty parlor visits (Tippy and Ella); and sports activities like badminton (Noel and Leandro)”
How often do you have meals together as a family? “Dinner time is sacred except for Friday evenings when our teenagers have their gimmicks with their friends. If the kids are unavailable, we take this time to go out as a couple.” Noel shares, “I grew up with an extended family as my Lola took care of us when one or both my parents, who were professors in the University of the Philippines, were away getting their post graduate degrees. When my cousins started going to UP Diliman for college, they stayed with us in UP Village so family dinners were generally noisy ones. Most of our conversations were academic in nature.”
Benefits of regular family mealtime: “Living in Manila has its downside, we leave the house before 6am and we’re away from each other the whole day. We then use our evening meals to catch up and share what we did the whole day. We are also able to check on our children’s lessons. We ask them what they learned for the day.
Mealtime topics: “We like to converse and chat about current issues; Ondoy, climate change, how to lessen our carbon footprint, relationship-dynamics (friends or boy-girl relationships), urban planning, charity/community work, etc. We’ve always maintained an open relationship with our children so they tell us everything – or most everything. We’ve talked about the birds and the bees with them, so they know that they can trust us with questions pertaining to sex and their sexuality. Our philosophy is that it is better they learn these things from us than reading from magazines or from their friends who may not give the right answers! They also talk about their ‘special friendships’ etc.”.
What do you wish to achieve by having regular family meals? Continued closeness. In this day and age of “fast” lifestyles (fastfood, fast internet connection, fast cars), we would like not to have a “fast relationship”. We want to continue to get to know our children better. Communicating with teenagers is far more complicated than communicating with grade school children. Having dinner together assures us that at least we have that one time to come together to share how our day went, or to process a certain difficult situation in our lives. Also, as we raised our children to enjoy having dinner with us, we want to see that same tradition handed down to their children; to share, not just good food, but good soul food as well”.

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