Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Family Dinner

Beyond the fact that she is a celebrity environmental priestess who worships at the church of Al Gore, I know very little about Laurie.

She produced a filmic screed called “An Inconvenient Truth,” and has written or contributed to several works on global warmism.

All things considered, I did not consider her writings to be worth the trouble.

And yet, today, David, along with Dr. Grace Freedman wrote an illuminating article on how best to control our nation’s childhood obesity problem. Link here.

Her solution: family dinners.

As it happens, I, among others, have long since advocated the importance of the ritual dinners. The fact that Laurie David has endorsed the idea wholeheartedly tells me that good ideas make their way into even the most environ-mentally unfriendly locales.

This does not mean that the idea was wrong. It means that there is hope for the planet.

Strangely enough, as you read the article, you start thinking that David is some kind of a family values conservative.

Because she begins by saying that while Michelle Obama is correct to target childhood obesity, she is wrong to place so much faith in government programs. The solution, Laurie David says, lies in the family. Or, most especially, in family dinners.

While we are at it, let’s emphasize that David is standing up for the kind of Confucian values that we last saw evidenced by the Tiger Mom.

Hopefully, her ideas will be granted more respect than were those of the Tiger Mom.

As a reminder ... Confucius believed that human communities are held together by the fact that people participate in common rituals and ceremonies.

People pay lip service to this idea all the time. It is not a self-evident truth, especially in America where everyone thinks that the country is being held together because we all believe in the same ideals.

Confucius might have said that saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag is a more significant social glue than is our shared belief in freedom or equality or rights.

In truth, most people have different conceptions of our founding ideals. And when you make national unity depend on shared ideals, you are on the road to mind control.

The school of thought that emphasizes the importance of ritual is actually more consonant with free expression than is the one that wants us to be worshipping the same ideals.

Rituals create cohesive communities regardless of what anyone thinks. And they do so without anyone having any flashes of insight or raised consciousness.

The Confucian principle is the enemy of the therapy culture.

To return to Laurie David, she recognizes the gravity of childhood obesity, and she offers the following solution: “There is one simple idea, though, that gets barely any attention. It's something that parents can act on right away, without any special training or government support and its available to them every day! That solution is family dinner. How and where we eat may seem too simple in the face of the enormous problem of childhood obesity. Yet, the ritual of eating meals together as a family, be it one parent at the table or both, has been shown to greatly improve healthy eating habits.”

For those who believe that we need a slew of new programs to address this problem, David responds: “Programs are geared mainly towards schools, and occasionally to adults, but rarely do we treat the basic social unit of the family with any consideration. What an oversight! Family dinner is a positive activity that is immediately understandable to parents, and immediately actionable. It is something that the vast majority of parents can do without much more than some basic ingredients and a kitchen table.”

How can one explain why family dinners are so beneficial? According to David: “Regular, routine meals add structure to a child's day (and to a parent's) and from this structure stems a myriad of health and social benefits, including better relationships with peers and adults, better grades at schools, and less likelihood of using drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. We all know this. But children (and adults) who have regular mealtimes, with the television turned off and conversation turned on, are also far less likely to be overweight, are less likely to have eating disorders, and are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables than are those who eat alone or on the run.”

Better yet: “Many studies have shown that families who make dinner at home do indeed eat healthier. One theory is that once parents take the step to mindfully shop, prepare, and serve dinner, they also start making better health choices for themselves and their families. The act of sitting at the table and putting the focus on the mealtime may, all of a sudden, make the "fast-food" meal less palatable and a lot less interesting as an everyday option.”

One other point struck me about David’s article. Not only did she skillfully jettison the idea that we need more government programs, but she did not trot out the idea that we all need to put children on diets.

For that I, for one, am grateful.

The therapy culture has long purveyed the notion that we are involved in a great struggle between mind and appetite.

For quite some time now Americans have been told that they must sate their sexual appetites freely and openly. In principle, the beneficiaries of this new social policy was supposed to have been women. Yet, many of today's Americans-- certainly, most American women-- are involved in some kind of draconian effort to suppress their alimentary appetite, the better to make them sexually attractive.

Frankly, I think that the world would be a better place if we get over the idea that the only alternatives are to allow our alimentary appetites free reign or to suppress them in order to melt off those last few fat cells.

In my view, David is correct to see that active participation in the social ritual of the family dinner will lead to better eating habits, better health, and probably better figures. Without government programs and without a new diet.

1 comment:

Therapy Culture said...

"Because she begins by saying that while Michelle Obama is correct to target childhood obesity, she is wrong to place so much faith in government programs. "

Those in government will also promote government.

However, she does have an organic garden and GOT IN TROUBLE with Big Farma for trying to propagate family gardens of all things!

(Remember when Big Beef went after Oprah?)

When will the Corporatocracy ever let the people - just be?

By the way, Americans spend alot of time trying to figure out what's "wrong" with them when its always been painfully obvious to the rest of the world, especially those from, well, cultures.