Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Celebrate Family Dinner with #B4FD Teleseminar

Yesterday my B4FD colleague Kathleen Cuneo hosted a great teleseminar on "all things family dinner" to celebrate and promote the launch of Family Dinner Month (9.26-10.24.11) on the Blog for Family Dinner. It was great to be joined by Billy Mawhiney of Time at the Table, Aviva Goldfarb of The Scramble, Jennifer Schiff from The Family Dinner Book, and John Sarrouf from The Family Dinner Project.

Celebrate Family Dinner with #B4FD Teleseminar, 9.20.11 (audio recording)

We talked about current research in the field, including many studies that show that family dinner and communal eating is not just for kids. Indeed, everyone benefits, including parents, couples without children, seniors, and even college-aged students. We talked about tips and time-savers, like meal planning and getting everyone to chip in, and overall, about how best to make the commitment to family dinner.

A big theme was re-defining family dinner so that it works for you. Don't be intimidated by the rosy, nostalgic idea that family dinner has to be a 3 course meal with homemade apple pie at the end (though that's always nice!) A realistic weeknight meal is more like soup and salad, easy one-pot meals, or quick pasta dishes. What is important, really, is finding time together and making the family table a safe, consistent gathering place. Setting a routine and sticking to it helps, be it 3 days a week or every single day.

The teleseminar will be available for listening (free) on the Blog for Family Dinner website through the month promotion (now until October 24, 2011) and also available to subscribers of Kitchen Table Parents.

If you believe in family dinner, please be sure to add your name to our subscriber list and to follow our blog posts next month. You can also check in with Facebook or Twitter (@blog4famdinner). More ideas to spread the word about #B4FD here. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back to School, Back to the Family Table (#B4FD)

September is "Family Dinner" month which is perfect timing in one sense: as kids get back to school, we naturally begin to re-think routines and priorities. Yet, it is terrible timing in another sense: the fall is often crammed with new schedules, new transitions and new commitments. This may be the busiest time of year, and without a clear plan, family dinner may be the first thing to go or the last thing you want to add to a crammed schedule. Nonetheless, when the crazy-iness dies down, family dinner can be there to provide structure and sanity, and to give you and your kids a good foundation all year.

Remember, family dinner is not bad-tasting medicine. It can combine family connectedness, laughter, and even healthy, delicious food--what's bad about that? Family dinner is also one of the only public health solutions that has ever been shown to have consistent positive effect on multiple health and social issues, such as obesity, underage alcohol and drug abuse, social disconnectedness, low school performance, and unhealthy relationships to food.

That's why Joseph Califano set up Family Day with CASA over ten years ago, and celebrated this year on Monday, September 26, 2011. After a lifetime of studying health problems, including the debilitating affects of drug and alcohol abuse, he wanted to trumpet family dinner as a positive step that every family could take. In 2011, my colleagues and I are spreading the word and connecting with families in a new way: Blog For Family Dinner, a month-long promotion from September 26 to October 24, 2011. We know that drug abuse prevention is not the only "good thing" that comes from family dinner. There are a whole host of "here and now" reasons as well as other long-term benefits to family meals and family connectedness.

I hope you will join us in the Family Dinner movement by supporting and following the B4FD project. Talk about family dinner with your friends and colleagues, talk about what it means to you, how you make it work, what challenges you face, and offer support and lend advice to one another. Sharing ideas and excitement can help you make the commitment to family dinner.

Read more about the importance of fitting family dinner into the back-to-school routine in this profile:

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? by Kim Seidel, Fall 2011