Take Time for Dinnertime (even if it arrived by pizza truck!)

The New York Times recently published an article entitled, Make Dinner: A Home Cooking Manifesto, in the Dining and Wine section.  As you can tell from the title, the author is in support of cooking at home for a number of reasons, and so am I.  After reading the article and also the comments I was most surprised by how polarizing the topic of cooking has become.

There are many people in support of cooking at home and many others who adamantly feel that it's just not feasible with all there is to do in any given day.  Regardless of where you are on the cooking continuum, there are other ways to make dinnertime a special time because we all know that the benefits of a family dinner go beyond just the food.  It's also about the ritual of eating as a family, taking time to feel grateful for the food you're eating and also for those who have prepared it for you (whether they are your family members or strangers in a restaurant kitchen down the street).

Here are a few things you can do to make dinnertime a special time even if you're eating carry out.  

  1. Use real plates, real silverware, and sit at a table.  A few extra dishes, yes, but eating mindfully at a table off of plates that need to be cleaned makes dinner feel more like the main event and less like something you do on the way to something else.  
  2. Turn off the TV and leave your phone in another room.  There are many studies that show that eating while distracted leads to weight gain (Distracted Eating May Add to Weight Gain, Harvard Health Blog).  Plus, we've all sat across from the iPhone addict, do you really want be that person?
  3. Take a breath and pause to feel grateful for your food and for those who have prepared it for you, whether you know them personally or not. 
  4. Add something fresh to your plate.  If you've ordered pizza, add fresh spinach or arugula to the top or eat it with a side salad.  If you've ordered Thai Food, re-heat it on the stove and mix in some chopped kale, spinach, or chard or throw on a few fresh basil leaves.  
  5. Chew your food.  There are so many benefits to chewing including improved digestion, better absorption of nutrients, and most importantly, you're more likely to enjoy it!  (Studies Show Eating More Slowly Benefits Your Health and Waistline, Mercola.com)

What do you do to make dinner a special time for your family?