Most of our ancestors viewed meals as being of great importance, and tried to arrange a pleasant, happy setting to eat and enjoy the real food they valued.
The need to get to work or school at an early hour often means a hurried breakfast, gulped down quickly. The time allowed for lunch at work or school is usually short, and eating lunch is often a race against the clock. People are busy in the evening as well, and the time available for cooking and eating dinner is often limited. It is common for people living in the same family to eat at different times. Most people do not know how to cook, and meals often come from a package nuked in the microwave, or consist of takeout from a restaurant. Upset stomachs and digestive ailments are common. Many people try to relieve this discomfort by gulping pills, which only masks the problem, at best.
Of course, many of these problems come from the poor quality of factory food. But the fear of food and the race to hurry through a meal are huge factors as well.
Our ancestors would have been appalled by this modern way of eating. To most of them, meal time was a carefully conducted ritual, where healthy natural foods were enjoyed without fear or hurry, where every custom was designed to bring harmony and joy to the table. Discussing the taste and quality of the food being enjoyed was a tradition, and it was usually forbidden to argue or raise controversial subjects at the table. Being friendly and courteous was expected. Everyone was expected to do their part to create and sustain a pleasant atmosphere while eating. The cook was praised and complimented for the good food prepared, and thanks for the food was often given before eating began.
There was a definite purpose behind the ritual of a pleasant meal. It was considered absolutely necessary for the food to be properly digested. Our ancestors knew there was more to digestion than cramming food into their mouths.
Our ancestors did not need studies to tell them that eating a delicious meal in harmony , peace, and happiness was important for digestion, and the absorption of nutrients, and they were absolutely right. Modern research has confirmed that stress, hurry, and rushing through meals impairs digestion, and often results in stomach problems, with a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
It is not enough to have good food, it must be properly cooked, eaten in relaxed, pleasant circumstances, and deeply appreciated. This is the time-honored way to help our bodies process the nutrients in food. The importance of having pleasant surroundings as an aid to digestion, and to avoid conflict or stress while eating was mentioned by many ancient, medieval, and pre-twentieth century writers. While circumstances such as war or famine could prevent the tradition of a happy meal from taking place, a peaceful meal of great real food was the ideal, and almost everyone tried to make it happen when circumstances would allow it.
Having a pleasant meal of great real food is a challenge in our modern, hurried culture. But it can be done. I select the best real food I can find, without extravagant cost. I cook from scratch, using only real food. If eating out, I select the most real food from what is available. Wherever I am at mealtime, I do my best to relax, think happy thoughts, and focus on eating and enjoying the food, and the company of the people I am with. I try to maintain a pleasant discussion as we eat, and to focus on the good things in my life. I do not rush when I eat, as I believe it is better to eat at a pleasant pace, even if time is short, even if I might not finish the food.
When I can influence the time available to eat, I do the best I can. Then with the invaluable help of my family, we arrange delicious real food, in pleasant surroundings, without hurry or worry.
I know for a fact that the wonderful feeling of well being I usually get after eating is due not only to the good real food, but to the happy pleasant atmosphere in which it is enjoyed.
Our ancestors were right about this, in my view. This kind of meal is a happy, wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it.
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