Archive for November, 2010

A Conversation With Laurie David On Her New Book “The Family Dinner, Great Ways to Connect with Our Kids, one Meal at a Time.”

Help Save Your Family, One Meal at a Time, With Laurie David’s New Book
 
Laurie David is perhaps one of the biggest environmentalists of all time.   Without her, we would not have Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” movie and all the environmental momentum, proposed legislation and school science projects on global warming and melting glaciers that sprouted thereafter.  Thankfully, I am proud to claim that Laurie was our guest speaker at the May 2010 “Greening Our Children” luncheon in support of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center and I feel honored to report that her first public mention of her new green mission was at our fundraiser.  
 
Thankfully, Laurie is about to become famous all over again for pointing out a different violation of Mother Nature.   Nothing should be more natural than feeding your children, yet with today’s demanding schedules and distracting electronic gadgetry, the sanctity of the family dinner, and the nutritional and emotional nurturing that ensue, is practically shattered.  Meals today are eaten in cars, in front of the tv and computer, at different times and in a variety of standing/sitting positions.  It’s no wonder, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician, Dean of Global Health and Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, that childhood obesity has increase threefold since the 1980s.
 
While our government is slow to protect nature’s treasures being destroyed by our swollen carbon footprint, no law will ever protect the sanctity of the deteriorating time spent dining together as a family.  This is where Laurie David comes to our rescue with her new book, “The Family Dinner, Great Ways to Connect with Our Kids, one Meal at a Time.”  In my recent interview with Laurie, mother to 14 and 16 year old daughters, she wisely pointed out that no soccer practice, no music lesson will ever be as important as a meal together with the family.  
 
Laurie, almost exasperatingly, pondered, “What are we rushing to?  Eating together and sharing valued conversation is the most important activity of a child’s day.  Research shows that children who have family meals together are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, get into trouble with the law and engage in promiscuous behavior.“
 
In the old days, Laurie reminisced, activities were right after school and kids were on the bus, home by 5:30.  “If it’s best for my child’s self esteem and health to have them home for dinner, we as parents should prioritize family meals.”   I imagined what sort of mutiny my 13 and 16 year old sons would stage if I refused to drive them to sports practice.  After dismissing that uncomfortable scenario, I recognized that hell hath no fury like a group of determined mothers vocalizing at the next local football association parents’ meeting.  I will give it a try and let you know how that goes!
 
Our conversation, like her gem of a book, was rich and varied with oodles of tips, recipes and humorous points.  Here are some of the snippets to help whet your appetite.
 
Q:  So many families are not traditional.  Either the parents are divorced or Dad or Mom doesn’t get home until 8 pm and kids can’t wait that long to eat.  How do we plan a family meal when the whole family isn’t there?
 
A;  If your spouse isn’t there or you live in a single family household, establish some sort of ritual with whomever IS there!  Some time ago, my husband Larry was continually working late so we invited another family over for “Taco Tuesdays”, which my kids still clamor for today.  If that doesn’t work, make Sunday dinner your dinner.  Soledad O’Brien and her husband even get dressed up for their Sunday dinner, so do what’s best for you.
 
Q:  Your book lists terrific topics intended to engage the family and teach the kids good conversation skills and manners.  Can you share some of your favorite conversation starters?
 
A:  The topic certainly depends on the age of the children, but some of my favorites include getting-to-know you games like sharing pet peeves and idiosyncrasies (there is a subtle difference, which is fun to debate), conversation starters like describe your dream vacation and word games where you take turns listing oxymorons and similes.  On Fridays, The Huffington Post lists a “family dinner download” question on a current news topic.  The week we asked readers “What would you do if someone wrote something really mean about your mom?” in light of the fact that Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin, made headline news for defending her mom through a posting on Facebook.  
 
Q:  Thank you for speaking at the “Greening Our Children” luncheon this past May, and kindly including a quote from Dr. Landrigan on the back of your book, next to Tom Hank’s quote no less!  Given your book prominently mentions the health hazards of BPA, phthalates and PVC plastic wrap, I’m wondering if you learned any of this information from our esteemed doctor.
 
A:  Actually, I already knew about BPA, phthalates and plastic wrap, which is why I recommend storing food in glass.  What I didn’t understand is the pivotal role Dr. Landrigan played in conducting the research on these chemicals, which is why I am proud to include his name on the book.
 
Lastly, I asked Laurie if she would ever consider producing “An Inconvenience Truth II” movie on how toxic chemicals found in products we use everyday are affecting our children’s health vis-a-vis pediatric cancers, autism, learning disabilities and childhood obesity.  (You can’t blame me for asking!)  While Laurie’s plate is currently full with appearances to market her new book, one can only hope and pray that her next project will be to raise awareness of Dr. Landrigan’s message and ultimately improve the landscape of children’s health forever.

Toxic Metals Found In Children’s Cartoon Glasses

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40309111/ns/health-kids_and_parenting

A Great List of 40 Simple Ways to Lead a Greener Life

http://www.newyorkfamily.com/newyork/article-164-the-green-list.html

We were so lucky to have Laurie David speak at the Greening Our Children fundraiser this year!

She describes the term “green” in her book “The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming” , as “everything that seeks to protect and preserve the well-being of people and the planet.”

Well said!

Cell Phone Warning…..Take Heed Before It’s Too Late!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/business/14digi.html

Be Aware of Toxic Toys at Toys R Us!

http://www.toxictoysrus.com/