Take the stress away from the dinner table

March 10, 2009 by  
Filed under STRESS

Resource post for March

plateIs meal time stress time at your home? With two preschoolers to take care of, it can sometimes be for me. But I and my husband do our best to make meal times stress-free especially in the evenings because we know that the more relaxed our evening is, the better the kids – and us – could sleep. Besides, stress, as we know, is bad for our health, affects our appetite (either way is possible), and can interfere with our digestion. There is therefore a need to remove stress from our evening meals.

A recent WebMD article gave the following recommendations – 6 Ways to De-Stress at the Dinner Table:

  1. Turn down the volume.
  2. Set the Table to Set the Mood.
  3. Let There Be (Soft) Light.
  4. Control the Conversation.
  5. Keep Your Cool in the Kitchen.
  6. Keep It Real.

tomatoes-slicedI agree with some of the tips given in the above list, especially the first one. However, each family is different. Add to the cultural differences in eating habits and you will agree there is no magic formula to a stress-free evening. I’d like to share with you our family’s strategies to have relaxing mealtimes in the evening.

No TV, no toys. No TV is allowed at meal times and no toys are allowed on the table either. It only takes one match box car to tip a glass over.

Keep it simple. Stress doesn’t just occur at the dinner table but in the kitchen as well. That is why we try to keep evening meals as simple as possible. On weekdays, everybody in the family gets a substantial warm meal either at the office canteen or at school cafeteria. Suppers at home would consist of whole grain bread, cheese, cold cuts, and sliced fresh vegetables. Low-fat fruit yoghurt or fruit mousse serves as dessert. If necessary, I can quickly make a vegetable soup in winter time. However, having this simple, easy but still healthy meal in the evenings saves me the stress of kitchen work.

Now, you may ask. How can preschoolers survive without chicken nuggets, fries, or macaroni with cheese in the evening? Ours can because they’re used not used to having them in the first place. A study by Australian researchers called Parental Attitudes and Nutrition Knowlekitchen_utensiliesdge. showed that children learn the taste for healthy food from their parents. And their preferences are already evident as early as age 5. Our kids would remind me if I forget the veggie cuts in the evening. They just love them.

Eat together. No matter how simple the fare is, it is important that the family sits together during the meal. According to the WebMD article “recent research at Columbia University found that children who regularly had dinner with their families are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, and more likely to do better in school. In fact, studies show the best-adjusted children are those who eat with an adult at least five times a week, says Ann Von Berber, PhD, chair of the department of nutrition sciences at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

Keep it early. An early evening meal is recommended especially if you have little kids. Remember that going to bed with a full stomach is not really the best strategy for a good night sleep. We usually have supper at 6 pm, at the latest at 6:30 pm. That way, the kids can be in bed by 8 pm. However, an early supper is only possible if you keep it simple. Mind you, in some cultures (e.g. southern Europe, for example), dinner cannot start earlier than 8 pm.

Avoid take outs. We are not big fans of take outs, be it pizza or Chinese noodles or burgers. While some people think take outs are convenient, I think otherwise. I think take outs are unhealthy and wasteful (think of all those packaging) and should only be opted for under special circumstances.

Work as a team. Involve the kids in setting the table. Get them to help with peeling and slicing the vegetables, as well as with the cleaning up afterwards. This way, things go much faster.

candlelight-dinnerKeep the special touches for the weekend. Weekends are slow food time at home. Saturdays and Sundays are the days reserved for specially prepared meal. There is more time to plan and shop and cook on the weekends. No need to rush or panic. Whoever is in the kitchen doesn’t get stressed or harried. On the weekends, we start our day together with a late breakfast or brunch. Early afternoon, we have a light snack which could be soup, fruit salad, or cake. And then we end the day with a 3-course meal. With candlelight and all. In the summer time, a barbecue on the terrace is warranted.

I like cooking for my family. But I can’t do it 7 days a week under time pressure after having had a long working day. I will be stressed, my husband will be stressed, and the kids will be stressed. Meal times should be times when a family sit together and talk, not argue or bicker. After a day’s work or school, the evening meal is the time to wind down and talk about the day’s events. The less stress there is, the better for everybody.


Photo credit: stock.xchng

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Quebec Division, Pays Tribute to Three Quebecers at the Opal Awards Dinner

March 22, 2006 by  

MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(CCNMatthews – March 21, 2006) – The fourth Opal Awards Dinner, named for Evelyn Opal, the founder of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSSC), was held on Wednesday, March 1st, at the Sheraton Centre in Montreal. This prestigious awards ceremony pays tribute to the outstanding achievements and social commitment of three Quebecers. This year’s Opal Awards Dinner raised $451,100 in donations and services for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Quebec Division. The money will be used to support research and services for people with multiple sclerosis and their families.

Robert E. Brown, President and CEO of CAE Inc., received the highest distinction of the evening, the Grand Merit Opal Award, for his career achievements and philanthropy.

The Opal Ambassador Award was presented to Robert Gervais, President and CEO of Pre2Post Inc., for his commitment to the MSSC. He has been a member of the MS Leadership Awards selection committee since 2002 and currently chairs this committee. It is because of Robert Gervais that the MSSC has been able to expand its visibility within the business community.

Nathalie Brouard, a Partner, Tax Services with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, received the Tribute Opal Award in acknowledgement of her courage and leadership. A volunteer with the MSSC since 1998, Nathalie Brouard formed what has become the number one team in the Super Cities WALK for MS, raising over $110,000 to fight the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis is the most widespread neurological disorder among young adults in Canada. It mainly strikes between the ages of 15 and 40 and there is no cure. Some 12,000 Quebecers have MS.

For more information on the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Quebec Division, see the Web site at www.mssociety.ca/qc .

A division of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada – Registered Charitable Organization No. 10490 2523 RR0001

Source and Photo will be available on CP picture wire.



Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Quebec Division
Isabelle Laplante
Communications Coordinator
(514) 849-7591 or 1 800 268-7582

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.