What makes you pick out a restaurant? The food is clearly a huge focus, yet as I work my butt off to embrace wellness and encourage others to, I would say it is so much more. When it comes to the whole family, it’s a game changer. Especially my family, although I am sure we all feel this way. We all have our own issues, things that are important to us, dietary requirements and of course stress levels.
I am huge on atmosphere. Yes, I am a foodie but a huge reason I eat out is to unwind ah and of course to get away from the dishes. Surroundings and the little extra touches can make or break my stress levels and experience. When it comes to the kids, I love child friendly entertainment, patient and friendly service and nice toilets that are easy to get to. Touches that show that people care. I have been to restaurants that are ALL about the food and not the service. I won’t name one I went to over the festive period. It was a swanky restaurant, the food was fab BUT a member of staff complained about my friends pram. Look, I get it – prams get in the way but there is no need to make parents feel awkward about it.
I was very impressed with Wagamama earlier this year and I gave my tips for dishes the kids will love. In fact, good old Wags is a place that our kids feel really at home. The bonus is that the food is healthy and tasty too and they care about wellness. Wagamama are working hard to promote mindful eating and I am delighted to be doing some events with them which kick off in June.
Last month, I took a risk. I decided to take my Mum and Dad out for Dad’s birthday. Now, this might sound like a very simple task. But no, Mum and Dad avoid going out these days because in many ways it feels too stressful. So what is the point? There are so many foods my Mum can’t eat and as for my Dad – he is visually impaired and as he is on medication, there are also a lot of foods that he can’t eat.
When we arrived, Dad was presented with a bible of a braille menu. I will never forget the look on his face. In fact, of all the family meals we have been on over the years, I have never seen Dad with a menu in his hand. My Mum always reads to him, every single item on the menu. She has the patience of a Saint. Mum was presented with a gluten free menu. Now, I won’t bore you with the details of all the requests we had. Could one ingrediant be taken out of a dish, could the sauce come on the side, could we have sirlion instead of prawns – you get the drift. Nothing was too much effort. We were made to feel normal about this.
Now, I have a confession. Mindfulness and eating are two words I struggle to put together. I am prone to shoveling my food down. I suspect I picked up this habit from childhood because if I didn’t eat quickly, my brothers would grab what was on my plate. I decided earlier this year that it’s time to make a change. But that takes effort and it takes a support network.
That night, my brother Iain made fun of me for grabbing my fork over chopsticks. He grabbed the fork off me in a banterish sibling love kind of way and challenged me to chill out and have a bit of patience. It turns out it wasn’t so hard afterall and I really enjoyed taking time over my meal. It was delicious too may I add (tip – try the firecracker with Sirlion).
To quote Wagamam:
‘Mindful eating is about learning to pay more attention to the food we eat and how we eat it. It’s about being aware of how the food we choose to eat affects our bodies, minds + feelings. paying attention to what you’re eating + appreciating it’s appearance, texture, colour and taste. food should satisfy all of the senses. The way we eat animates our spirit. providing sustenance for the body and nourishment for the soul’ – way of the noodle’.
It sounds deep but I have to agree. So often we rush. Meal times shouldn’t be that way. Meal times are precious. Meal times are for making memories and having good chat. We are often advised to eat sitting down, away from our screens. I wrote early last year that I would try my best to keep the phone off the dinner table. It’s hard though when we are not in company. I’ll be honest, I have a bowl of granola on my desk right now. Some days it is easier said than done, we ain’t super human.
The team at Wagamama are passionate about wellness and i’m delighted to be teaming up with them to put on some fantastic events. I can’t wait to share more with you. The first event will be to launch my wellness and lifestyle podcast at the start of June. . I am so excited to tell you more about this. As usual the podcast will hold nothing back and it has been created to inject a little mojo into your life if you need it. It’s also got some cracking guests on it. #watchthisspace