The kitchen table looks out for us, the couch doesn’t care

Step by step: We eat healthy food at the table; it demands it of us

We don’t come to the kitchen table to bare our souls. Or describe our day. Or plan tomorrow. Or start a battle. Or end one.

We come because we’re hungry – but courses usually come with discourse.

The dinner table, from the time we were too small to sit properly at it, has had a certain aura that has demanded respect.

When we were young, we were often under it – until we were told for the 10th time to sit properly on the chair. We were given rules of how to behave like an adult – long before we were treated like one.

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The dinner table quickly chooses a seat for you, and, though you didn’t realise it at the time, decades later that would still be your spot. Any subsequent moves were treated with suspicion.

We happily ate food at it that we swore we hated, while our mother nodded and smiled about all she had earlier chopped and mixed into the pot.

And sitting at the kitchen table eating chocolate cake served by your mam may not solve any of life’s problems but the world has yet to come up with a better idea.

I learned many lessons at the kitchen table with my parents and brother and sisters. It’s where we ate and laughed, and ate and fought, and ate and connected. We mostly fought because the food was never put on our plate; it was placed in the centre of the round table. I still have fork marks on the back of my hands, and that’s just from my dad.

Some things simply don’t change. the most common phrases said across the table more than three decades ago are still regularly used at my own family table now.

“How was your day?”

“Five more bites.”

“Stop annoying your sister.”

So many families are now starved of time to spend together, that the dinner table may be the only real chance to regularly reconnect.

We know it’s good for the spirit and a healthy mind – for the whole family – but I’ve recently come to realise the humble kitchen table could also be part of the frontline in the battle for a healthy body.

Personally, distraction has always been one of the core causes of unhealthy eating – though this revelation has taken a long time to reveal itself.

We munch on the couch with the television on; drive while devouring a chocolate-layered nougat; work beside a box of sweets that is regularly picked at until we can feel only the bottom of the container.

But multitasking at the kitchen table is still, apparently, a social taboo. At least it is with the ones we’re familiar with.

We eat healthy food when we’re at the kitchen table We wouldn’t treat it with such contempt as to sit at it and eat rubbish. It simply doesn’t feel right to sit at the table and open a bag of crisps.

That’s what the couch is for. The couch doesn’t deserve to be held in such esteem.

I still get hunger pains just walking in the door of the home where I grew up.

Which is just as well, because my mam has been trying to fatten me up again recently. Apparently, a 200lb son is just too close to size zero for comfort.You can express love through hugs and kisses. But true love is an Irish stew at the kitchen table.

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