When thinking about the values we pass on to our kids, we as parents want to do it right. We want our kids to have a solid foundation for making good choices. We want them to be able to navigate their lives in a healthy way when they grow up and have a family of their own.
When thinking of the values and traditions shaped in my own life, I often think back to the mealtimes in my childhood and the traditions surrounding these. And I don’t doubt for a minute that much of what I lean on today was founded in the conversations around that dinner table. That was where we talked about what was on our minds, how to process what had happened at school that day, what was on the news, or if somebody’s mood was a little off. Because what happens when we have conversations about those micro details of our day, is that we form the ground stones of our moral and our values. We mirror our parents and the people around us. And we navigate on that background.
But the dinner table is more than just the scene where these important conversations take place. The dinner table itself serves also as the place where food is served and where our relationship to food is founded. And these days, that seems more important than ever, as obesity rates and lifestyle diseases are increasing at an incredible pace. At the same time, our planet seems to be in a poor shape. And we are as busy as ever, our work hours, sports and commutes take our breath away – many of us complain to not have enough time with our families. To put it shortly, we have come to accept mindless eating in our busy lives.
In Nordic Family Table, we think that the dinner table can provide some crucial solutions to these problems. And that’s why we have created our Compass of Values.
Our core values are Real Food, Conscious, and Together. Starting with real food, it’s self-evident that America is facing an obesidemic and that a big part of our lifestyle diseases come from that fact. We eat too much, we eat too unhealthy food, much of it highly processed and pre-packaged. But how do we eat real food? Basically, it comes down to eating whole foods, which is food not made in a factory. Along with home-cooked meals, you will have much better control of what you eat, especially when it comes to additives, but also in terms of fat, salt, and sugar.
Another core value in our Compass is Conscious (eating). We are faced with an accelerating climate crisis that will affect generations to come if we don’t decide on doing something different. But climate is about more than fossil fuels and recycling. The world is just starting to realize how much we can affect our carbon emissions by changing what we eat. That’s why we should eat more plants, eat local produce, and reduce food waste.
The last core value is “Together”, which basically is an appeal to eat together, to share meals at the dinner table as often as we can. It turns out that eating together has a tremendous impact on our emotional well-being. And that goes for our kids, as well as for us. Our guidelines for eating together are: Be present, Share meals, and Engage.
Ultimately, how we pass on values to our kids comes down to the time we engage with them, our presence (both physically and mentally), and the dinner table is offering an opportunity to do exactly that.