Home for Dinner

Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids

 Home for Dinner

Author: Anne K. Fishel, Ph.D.
Pub Date: January 2015
Print Edition: $16.00
Print ISBN: 9780814433706
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433713

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Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids

“Dr. Fishel, one of the founders of The Family Dinner project, has addressed every single issue about family dinners that I have ever encountered in my life or in my therapeutic work with families. Anne takes you by the hand and walks you through whatever minefields you imagine you will encounter in the kitchen. She does it with warmth and humor...Home for Dinner will bring your families closer together.” — Michael Thompson, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and New York Times bestselling coauthor of Raising Cain

An Invitation Back to the Table—for a Bounty of Benefits!

As heaps of evidence show, frequent family dinners enhance children’s intellectual functioning (from pre-school vocabulary-building to high school test scores); promote mental health (including lower rates of depression among teens and eating disorders among girls); and improve physical health (by alleviating asthma symptoms and reducing the odds of obesity, for starters). Yet, compelling research alone won’t overcome hectic schedules, finicky eaters, defiant teens, the lure of fast food, and other common obstacles to making nightly dinners a household priority and regular practice.

HOME FOR DINNER: Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids (AMACOM 2015; $16.00 Paperback) is an invitation back to the table, with lots of practical tips, playful ideas, and tasty recipes, plus a little science to explain the benefits beyond nutritional. Throughout, author Anne K. Fishel, Ph.D.—a Harvard Medical School professor, therapist, community organizer, and mother of two young-adult sons she proudly describes as “competent and creative cooks”—combines insights from experts (medical, psychological, cognitive, and more) with experiences that show how sharing food has the power to heal and strengthen families, nourish children’s development and well-being, and maybe even change the world. “A nightly commitment to family dinners can be transformative,” Dr. Fishel attests.

Infused with empathy for any parent who feels overwhelmed by the prospect of making dinner night after night, HOME FOR DINNER aims to ease the stress by focusing on what’s manageable and enjoyable. Along with plenty of encouragement, chapters offer proven strategies, tactics, and tips to help parents:

• Tailor their dinner fare and rituals to fit the age of their children—starting with how to make their toddler an adventurous eater.

• Cultivate healthy eating habits, while minimizing groans and boredom, by serving a colorful array of veggies, varying dishes, and letting kids “play” with their food.

• Encourage talking—and listening—at the dinner table and ask questions that fan the flames of conversation without flaring tensions and tempers.

• Establish dinnertime rules and boundaries without making eating dinner as family feel like punishment (to kids) or a huge chore (to parents).

• Keep dinnertime interesting by bringing games to the table—like “Mindfulness” and “Guess that Emotion” that don’t require any boards, dice, or screens.

• Make dinnertime enlightening and enriching by telling stories that promote empathy, self-esteem, resilience, and fun.

That’s just a taste. HOME FOR DINNER also shares about 40 kid-tested recipes from a world of cuisines, most of which can be made in about 30 minutes; inspiring dinner tales from diverse families; and suggestions on using family dinner to spur social activism in the wider world. As Dr. Fishel makes clear to parents, making nightly time for dinner matters because family dinners are high-impact. “You get to nourish your family, prevent a host of problems, increase your children’s cognitive abilities, and provide pleasure and delight that they can build on for the rest of their lives.”

About the Author

ANNE K. FISHEL, PH.D., is the director of the Family and Couples Therapy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate clinical professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School. She writes the Digital Family blog for Psychology Today. As cofounder of The Family Dinner Project, she has been interviewed by Good Housekeeping, NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and other major media.

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