Families always eat, but, in the words of a Minneapolis parent addressing the challenges of family dinner, “We don’t always sit down and eat together if it’s fast food, like we would if it was home cooked.” The same research group found that families are more likely to watch dinnertime TV when they have “fast food.” It appears that fast food isn’t considered deserving of the family meal ritual. Researchers’ advice: Become more efficient about preparing healthy food. Our advice: develop reverence for ALL food, develop your own personal family meal ritual, and follow it whether you have fast food or the proverbial “home cooked meal.”

Reverence for ALL foods

Imagine what it would be like if we developed reverence for ALL food, not just food that obeys the “healthy” rules. We would treat food with respect and enjoy the ritual of family meals, whether the food is “home cooked,” fast, restaurant, prepackaged, or take-out. We would assign time and attention to feeding ourselves, rather than just grabbing something to keep the hunger pangs away. We would celebrate our eating, rather than making it a duty. To get and keep the meal habit, those meals have to be rewarding – food you enjoy. Our advice: begin by eating what you eat now; just round everyone up to eat it together. Family meals are when you all sit down together and share the same food, whether your family numbers one or a dozen. A table isn’t even necessary – a blanket on the floor will do.

It’s all about attitude. Our eating competence  research shows when eating attitudes are positive, people are healthy and do well nutritionally. This couldn’t be more different from the prevailing wisdom.

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