Eat, Laugh, Talk: The Family Dinner Playbook (Hardcover)
Research has shown what parents have known for a long time: sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain, and health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family meals with higher grade-point averages, resilience, and self-esteem. Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders, and depression.
Eat, Laugh, Talk: The Family Dinner Playbook gives you the tools to have fun family dinners with great food and great conversation. The book includes conversation starters as well as quick and easy recipes to bring your family closer. You will find tips for bringing your family to the table such as setting dinnertime goals, overcoming obstacles, managing conflicting schedules, and how to engage everyone in the conversation.
Eat, Laugh, Talk also includes real stories from families who have successfully become a part of The Family Dinner Project’s growing movement. Let’s do dinner!
The Family Dinner Project, a nonprofit initiative started in 2010, champions family dinner as an opportunity for family members to connect with each other through food, fun and conversation about things that matter. More than 20 years of scientific research shows “why” family mealtimes are so important. The Family Dinner Project provides the “how” for today’s busy families.
Our team members have come from varied personal and professional backgrounds. We are parents and non-parents, and our ages range from “young professional” to “Medicare-eligible.” Our collective professional experience includes education, family therapy, research, food, social work, marketing and communication. With nonprofit partners and local champions, The Family Dinner Project team works online and at community events to help families increase the frequency, meaning and long-term benefits of their shared meals. We are based in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Psychiatry Academy.
Anne K. Fishel, PhD
"The ideal cookbook to remind us that togetherness is the only perfection needed when it comes to dinnertime."
- Carla Hall, chef and author of Carla Hall’s Soul Food
"There's no doubt family dinner has proven social, emotional, and nutritional benefits for kids, but many parents grapple with a lot of obstacles (and guilt!) in trying to make it happen. Armed with these doable strategies, kid-friendly recipes, and dinner table games, families will feel empowered to gather around the table together more often to share meals—and make memories."
- Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, author of The 101 Healthiest Foods For Kids and founder of Real Mom Nutrition
"Eat, Laugh, Talk is a heartfelt guide through 52 weeks of easy, diverse, and tasty recipes along with real-life examples from families and how different family dinner 'case examples' have been resolved. Alongside both some expected and some unusual family scenarios are tips for conversation starters and dinner table games that pair well with different family dinners. Bringing together actual research from family therapy and nutrition science in the narrative, this book is an easy-to-read, delightful way for any family (however it may define itself) to revamp and reinvent itself around a positive family dinner experience. African curry, dessert sushi, and more, are just a few of the tantalizing recipes you will find to whet your family's appetite!"
- Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital
"Eat, Laugh, Talk! is a comprehensive mealtime guide for parents.
Aiming to bring the whole family together for a healthy, home-cooked meal, the text sparks ideas for food and fun. It throws out perfectionism in favor of 'ease, affordability, taste, and versatility.' This approach celebrates small victories, like a toddler taking two bites of vegetables, and holds realistic expectations about challenges like technology, co-parenting, picky eaters, and children who respond to questions about their days with 'fine'.
Straightforward, delicious recipes boast short ingredient lists whose items are readily available in grocery stores. Their instructions are direct and they involve short preparation times. They presume basic kitchen skills. Tasty, nutritious options for every course include Pineapple Sundaes, Lentil Sloppy Joes, and Curry Vegetable Dip.
Sections about feeding groups and adapting recipes to dietary needs are also helpful, while the suggested games and conversation starters are adaptable to a wide variety of ages. They include 'Would you rather...?' and a joke jar kept on the table, and range from lighthearted but meaningful to more serious. The book suggests involving children in the meal process, helping them to feel engaged and, hopefully, making cajoling them into eating and interacting less necessary. Insights on resolving mealtime conflicts are particularly useful.
This work is supported by research into the bountiful benefits of family meals, which include better physical health, greater emotional and mental health, and better educational outcomes. Beautiful photos of food and diverse families help in envisioning these proposed family meals.
Brimming with commonsense wisdom, Eat, Laugh, Talk! paints an attainable picture of enjoyable family meals."
- Melissa Wuske, FOREWORD Reviews