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Bring Back The Breakfast Table!!

I say bring back the breakfast table!

Recent wisdom tells us that we need to return to eating dinner together.  There a countless articles and studies showing the many benefits of eating dinner together around a table (sans devices or TV).  Here are a few listed in an article from Health Magazine;

"A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber..." says Matthew W. Gillman, MD, the survey’s lead researcher and the director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Harvard Medical School."

The article goes on;

"Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them…  This is especially true of eating disorders, says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has studied the impact of family meal patterns on adolescents.  

Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol, according to the CASA report. "While substance abuse can strike any family, regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age, or gender, the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help prevent [it]," says Elizabeth Planet, one of the report’s researchers, and the center’s vice president and director of special projects."

The article also mentions an experiment, where a group preschoolers were presented with sweet red bell pepper everyday for 5 days and told they could eat as much as they liked, by the end of the week, the children were eating more of it, and more children said they liked it by day 5, than at the beginning of the week - so, as indicated in this article, if you have a fussy eater, by simply exposing them to the same healthy foods over and over, incents them to eat more healthfully, and to do so more willingly. 

So if we get all these benefits from eating together in the evening, wouldn't it make sense to assume that families would also benefit from sitting down together in the morning?

Now I say this, and suggest this, from the far side of parenting.  My girls are grown, and have families of their own.  I also need to confess here, that I am decidedly not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination - in my defence I have an auto immune disease that makes me exceptionally tired, so there's that…  But!  What if!  In a perfect world, we sat down to breakfast together??  Before work or school.  Is this totally undoable in the modern age???  I don't know.  

When the girls were little, they would sit at the table and I would give them their their cold cereal, orange slices and orange juice while I stood making their school lunches.  I don't think this really counts as "together," but I did know what, and if, they were eating before school, and they could talk to me while they ate, again, I can't vouch for my responses, because you know - morning.  When they became teenagers, breakfast became smoothies they drank in the car.  

But when I look back on those years, I often wonder, 'Why on earth didn't I have oatmeal in the crockpot each night???'  Seriously!  How hard would it have been?  I know I would have eaten some, as I was usually the one going without breakfast, racing around until we rush off to the car for school.  But what if there was oatmeal in the crockpot.  Raisins, nuts and brown sugar on the table - set out the night before maybe?  Grab the milk out of the fridge and you're golden!  Mother of the year stuff there!

So why aren't we doing this?  Or are you?  And if so, what does that look like?  In a realistic, practical way? 

I'm a huge proponent of dinner together, in fact the idea of raising a family without sitting down to dinner each night, is completely foreign to me.  We did it with our girls, and growing up my family always ate dinner together.  How else do you get teenagers to ever leave their rooms???  Or hear about their day?  Or tell them about yours.  Dinner is one of the few occasions where families get actual face to face time, with nothing else in front of them.

But what my parents didn't do, and, as I've confessed, I never really mastered with my own kids, was the breakfast table.  When I was little, and we would visit my grandparents, we would sit down to hot Red River Cereal, as much brown sugar as we wanted, and my Grandpa would read the bible to us, every morning.  It was dreamy!  Heavenly!  Okay the bible reading sometimes went on a little long and was mostly over my head, but the whole ceremony of sitting together as we began the day was so lovely, and…  calming.   Calming?  Yup, that's the right word, but at the same time when we finished I always felt I had been given a good start.  That I was ready to go.  And to be honest, I think it was a huge influence in my belief in starting the morning with God's Word, as few and far as between those visits were.  It just goes to show the power of example, as my Grandpa was simply doing what he always did, he wasn't trying to indoctrinate or impress us.

So, I am - somewhat hypocritically, suggesting, that you plan, not only for dinner as a family, but breakfast - quick and frantic as it may be.  Bring back the not only dinner together, but breakfast too!  Bring back the breakfast table!!  Looking back I wish I had.






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