Food for Thought

Meal Time is Quality Time for ATA Families

It is a given that a majority of families are starved to spend meal time together.  Life seems to get in the way with work, school and countless activities.  Now, with video games and smartphones, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of holidays like Thanksgiving when we gather with our loved ones.   Whether your meals are spent at home in the kitchen or a late night drive thru, we all have to eat, and our experts say that when you do so with those you care about, you find that it brings you closer.


Soul Food

At the end of a long day, or even a long week, there’s nothing like bringing everyone together for a nice meal and catching up on what’s going on.  And research agrees.

Anne Fishel, a clinical psychologist and founder of said over the past 15 years, researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a while:  sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and your health.

For Pride Martial Arts owners, Master Sean Berry and Lizbeth Ahn and their sons, mealtime is hugely important to their regular routine even beyond the holidays.

 “Cooking and sitting down for meals is big in our household,” Ahn said.  “Even when my husband and I get home late from the studio, we all try to cook together.”  For their home, it’s even more fun as their 16-year-old son, 1st Degree Black Belt Tae-Ho Ahn, is very passionate about cooking and was even featured on Season 4 of “MasterChef Junior.” 

When interviewed by our team two years ago after the show aired, Tae-Ho explained how much he loved going to restaurants and studying how food was made and then bringing home ideas for the whole family.  He added, “I love creating new dishes, and as a foodie, I also love eating the delicious dishes I create.”  It’s no surprise that Tae-Ho now wants to continue his passion for cooking in culinary school. 

Though some recipes are kept a secret, Master Elizabeth Giles, chief instructor of All-Star Martial Arts in Cabot, Ark. shared one of hers with us. “Food and family go hand in hand.  Comfort is the special ingredient.  You are comfortable with your family and good food is comforting.”


Family Style

Sr. Master Ron Boswell, and his wife, 3rd Degree Black Belt, Niki Boswell, say their family is always striving to keep meals a top priority.  Niki says, “Having meal time is important to us because it’s the only time during the day where there are no phones, no TV, just family time when we talk about our day and just have fun, crazy conversations.” 

And everyone gets involved in the cooking.  She says the kids help out and Sr. Master likes to cook as well— though admittedly, he can be messy!

Mrs. Boswell believes having the children be part of the process “helps them to grow up and respect the fact that we work so much.”

Fishel agrees with getting everyone involved.  No matter what age your children are, everyone can be part of the shopping, picking out groceries and coming up with themes (Taco Tuesday, anyone?).  “Sharing in all of the tasks at dinner only makes this more of a family event,” Fishel says.


A Dash of Love

Chances are, you don’t have time to cook EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.  You may even be one of those families who chooses to go out on Thanksgiving rather than working hours in the kitchen. That’s okay.  It’s really about spending the time with those you care about while sharing a nice meal.

Chief Master Nominee Scott Skiles said his family has even gone camping over Thanksgiving break!  “We like to think outside of the box, and it makes for great memories.”

Giles likes the concept of “clocking out” for mealtime so that it’s not just a chore.  She says to leave the distractions behind and “just enjoy each other.” During their family Thanksgiving, it’s about food, family and games.  “We also decorate for Christmas!  The real memory is having full bellies and full hearts.” 


Happy Thanksgiving to our ATA families!  Gobble up this precious time with those you love!



Author: Lauren James

Edited by: Jenny Wolff

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