The car door shuts behind you—you’re tired—and as you make it up the driveway, macaroni salad in hand, the front door opens. Grandma stands there, calling out one of these words of endearment: “Hele ʻai!”, “itadakimasu!”, “Kain na!”, “Lái chī fàn ba!”
In other words, “Come, we go eat!” Your stomach is empty, yet your heart is what will leave full.
Sharing meals together has been a signature of our local Hawaii culture for years. Whether you grew up on the islands with your immediate, extended, and/or hanai families or are recent transplants embracing the delicious tradition of huge potlucks, you know that eating together is always better.
Research compiled by American Academy of Pediatricians and others reveals that the simple act of eating 3-5 meals together per week strengthens families, improves students’ school performance, reduces depression and reduces risky behavior in teenagers, such as smoking, drinking and drug use.
Sharing more family meals has health benefits too. According to Pediatrics Magazine (2011), families that share 3 or more meals per week eat more healthy foods, have less obesity, and fewer eating disorders.
See, Grandma did know best!
Let’s bring ohana back to the table and make mealtimes something to look forward to. Come hungry for quality time and leave with full hearts. The main thing is to turn off the TV and cell phones and have a conversation with the very special people in your life - your family.
Come on, we go eat!
For more information on the benefits of sharing family meals, visit www.keikitocareer.org