Etiquette Tips

The Art of Dining

By Deborah King

As seen in Texas Wise County Youth Today Magazine

What is dinnertime like at your house? For many, it is simply another interruption in an already-packed schedule. Cookbook options have been replaced with “Which fast-food establishment shall we drive through tonight?” Foods loaded with sugar, fat, and salt are eaten by hand, out of a paper bag, on the way to the next activity. Did you know that the average American consumes an entire meal in five to six minutes, and yet it takes our stomach about twenty minutes to send the message to our brain that we are full? Large and “super- sized” portions, eaten fast and on the run, have robbed us of our health and of the enjoyment of the food we eat.

Why should we be concerned with what has happened to the traditional family dinner hour?—that experience of life when a meal is carefully planned, the table is properly set, and the family gathers around to catch up on the activities of the day. This is the setting where we nourish our bodies with a well-balanced meal, learn and practice table manners, and discover the art and joy of conversation. This is the stage where relationships are developed and nurtured. Studies have shown that when families eat dinner together, children do better in school, their health is improved, and they have fewer social problems.

People from all walks of life come to Final Touch, asking for information on dining etiquette. Because they rarely sit for a half hour or longer at the table for meals, many have not mastered the ability to set a table properly and are overwhelmed by how to handle their utensils or the several situations that arise during an elegant meal. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge is often discovered at the moment they are faced with a more formal setting. As I say during our seminars, “The time to study is not when you are taking the test!” It is troubling to think of how many opportunities have been lost by poor table manners, not to mention the loss of self-esteem.

Everywhere we look, we are faced with the latest diet fad. Obesity is at an all-time high in the United States, creating an enormous health crisis and destroying our self-image. Most of us have witnessed those who have tried every diet that comes along, and nothing seems to work. A few pounds lost, then regained—and a couple extra for the next diet fad. We need to get off the diet rollercoaster and rethink how we view food. Food is not a bad thing to be avoided. Proper portions—served beautifully, enjoyed with those you love, and eaten with respect—will do great things in achieving and maintaining a healthy body.

The modeling and entertainment industry have sold us a lie that ultra-thin is the goal. A healthy body indeed does have shape, but our goal is to be healthy in our bodies and in our relationships so that we can live the life we were created to live.

Can you hear the drum beating ever so softly? It is calling us to return to the family table and experience the true art of dining. The joy of reconnecting with those you love will far outweigh the time and effort spent. Here’s to discovering and celebrating a healthier you!

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