The Guilt-Trip Casserole

So many people sent me this link: The Guilt-Trip Casserole - Dinner and the Busy Family because I'm the Family Dinner Queen. What I like best about this article, though, is that it brings up the correlation/causation issue.

Families who are likely to be having family meals are different from other families in a lot of ways: demographically, culturally, religious. While I do believe family meals were both therapeutic and diagnostic in my daughter's case it does not follow for me that family meals are preventive or a moral judgment. We didn't do family meals routinely before our daughter was ill, and I regret that more because it is a lovely and family-building experience than out of guilt. I do now suggest normalizing and prioritizing family meals for many reasons, mostly because I think we've stomped out what would seem to be normal and many of us need permission to adopt it again.

I like the Ellyn Satter idea that kids deserve adults in their lives who are competent and confident and reliable in providing meals. That structure is, like other parenting responsibilities, very individual to the parties involved. I'm still not great at planning and preparing family meals, and probably won't ever be expert at it. I don't iron well, either, and I am just stupid on my son's Boy Scout merit badge requirements. My kids probably don't need me to be perfect, though, just trying - and I am.


  1. We're one example of a family that eats family dinners regularly (we rarely miss). Yet, doing so didn't prevent my son from developing anorexia.

  2. Ditto - my family ate together every single night growing up. And still I developed an ED. (Laura, I don't think you were trying to say that family dinners prevent EDs. I was just adding to what Wendy wrote).

  3. We also almost always ate family meals and our d developed fact the ed made our family meals less, because often our d needed two hours to get thru a meal and I didn't want her little brother to be a witness to all the craziness. I think it is one of these things like "corn syrup will kill you" and "only eat whole grains" that people get wrapped up in even though there is no science behind family meals or else!

  4. We ALWAYS ate family meals together when I was growing up, yet my sister develop AN/BN for 8 years. My sister, in trying to figure out the 'why' of her illness, said maybe it was because we ate together 'too often' and she could think of no better way to control my parents!! Whew!! Another wild theory!! Honestly, she just didn't know and was trying to come up with some reason that made sense retrospectively in regard to her then 14 year old self...

  5. We always ate dinner together as a family, and my D manifested anorexia at age 11. We did wonderful things together as a family every day, including sharing mealtimes. I wish eating together were preventative, then my D never would have gotten an ED.

  6. We always ate dinner together as a family, and it was always very mentally nourishing.

    When my ED really became bad, dinner became tense for everyone. But as my family learned that my ED was not a reflection of them, things relaxed again. And as they relaxed, I started a slow-buy-steady path to recovery.

    Now that I have a child, we eat together. We may all have different dinners, but it's still valuable time that nourishes the family. I look forward to it, even on days when my ED is 'flaring' and I'm having not-so-healthy thoughts.

  7. Dr Middleman is an MD and I applaud that she stands up for family dinners. However she is not a supporter of FBT and is a traditionalist in her thinking on ED. Family pathology features strongly, I have heard that very line about "what they come back to".

    Our family dinners were regular and plesant before ED came. Sadly they were not preventative. ED has made eating together very difficult. When family dinner becomes a joy agin, I think we will know what recovery feels like.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts