The Pleasures of the Table (Great Food)

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We eat and drink too much. And then we feel guilty.

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A comparative study found that when American parents talked to their children at the dinner table, they talked about what children should eat in nutritional and moral terms. When the Italians talked at the table, they talked about what their children wanted to eat, and encouraged them to develop their individual tastes.

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According to a recent national survey in the US by CASAColumbia, teens who have more frequent family meals have better relationships with their parents, and are less likely to smoke or use drugs and alcohol. Sitting around the table talking with your teenagers at least five times a week, even for just 20 minutes, has positive, lasting effects on their health and on family relationships. But having regular family dinners can be a challenge. Children and adolescents have busy afterschool schedules, and for some parents juggling jobs, working long hours or not having a partner make it virtually impossible to find a moment when everyone is home.

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But research suggests that making even a little time to have those conversations around the table can have big payoffs down the road. When you do sit down at the table, leave the television and the phones off until the meal is over.

In a recent study, researchers had two groups of families share a meal in a lab made to look like a dining room. One group had no distractions, and the other group heard a continuous loud noise coming from a room adjacent to theirs. The researchers found that the distracted group consumed more cookies.

The Virtues of the Table – microphilosophy

The harder it was to focus on the meal, the more they were tempted to overeat. The French idea of education of taste has much in common with the notion of mindfulness. Both traditions focus on giving yourself over to the moment and living it fully. Notice the subtlety or the intensity of the flavors and savor each morsel.

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  5. Lose yourself in the pleasure. As we start a new year, if we must deprive ourselves for a distant goal, why not at least find and enjoy the many small pleasures along the way? Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Pleasure at the table, pleasure in life.

    Teppanyaki in Osaka - Food in Japan

    Yohann Legrand , CC BY-SA The education of taste means teaching children to appreciate and savor the wide variety of flavors in the world and to eat properly at the table. Restrictions that actually open up the world The moment that tied it all together for me was when I asked a mother in my research study why it was important to train her children to behave properly in public. Winner : Salon London Transmission Prize.

    Chris' Top Picks

    This philosopher does a better job and with more humour. Erica Wagner, Financial Times.

    The Pleasures of Eating

    A book that stimulates mind and palate. Tom Moriarty, Irish Times.

    Paul Levy, Wall Street Journal. Baggini brilliantly picks apart the contradictions and inherent hypocrisies. Roger Lewis, The Times. This remarkable book combines the pleasures of the table with those of philosophy, and once again this most engaging of philosophers has achieved a perfect balance.