The dinner table. It's a piece of furniture that is so closely related to food that it's in its name. The same can be said of the breakfast bar, snack tray and cookie cabinet. Many things in our lives revolve around food. It makes sense. Sustenance is essential to the human condition. All good. But since starting the ketogenic diet, losing 97.4 pounds and truly regaining control of my life, food and its place in my life has changed.
Recently I experienced something, quite by accident, that drove home a thought for me about the true, deeper purpose of the family dinner table. Let's face it, we can - and sometimes do - eat standing over the sink. So how can the family dinner table multi-task and what is is like to realize there's more to a meal than food?
A week or so after many people completed their holiday traditions, many of which revolve and food and family (sometimes in that order) we had the pleasure of having a day with our two grown sons, daughters-in-law and our newly minted granddaughter, a mere month 6 weeks old. Both sons and their families live a bit over an hour away so day trips are common and easy. We had decided that gathering arbitrarily on Christmas Day wasn't all that important for any of us. They have in-laws and lives and new traditions of their own and a getting together the Saturday after suited us just fine. Nothing structured or mandatory. Just hanging out, flapping our gums, catching up and enjoying each others' company.
As with many family get togethers, the day would find us seated for a meal. The menu was standing prime rib - the easiest fancy entree to prepare - mashed cauliflower casserole, with melted shredded cheddar cheese on top and sautéed zucchini, yellow squash and onion. A filling meal. Even a bit elegant. I prepared the meal as the afternoon progressed and as we toasted each other with wine, Marker's Mark and, for My Lovely Mate, diet cranberry juice. Stories, gentle debates, and passing the baby from one set of loving arms to the next.
Then it was time to eat. The table had been set before anyone arrived, the prime rib was transferred to a serving dish and vegetable dishes place on trivets. Glasses were filled and raised and the meal progressed. The conversations that had originated in the living room and kitchen shifted to the dining room. Lovely Mate served gracious portions of medium rare beef and casserole dishes made their way around as each person spooned firsts, and then seconds onto their plates.
A typical family dinner.
The thing is that I had been lucky enough to be on deck to hold the baby. I sat at the head of the table, opposite my husband, our sons and daughters on either side. Talk, talk, talk. Laugh, guffaw, laugh. None of this 'dining dead' situation where people sit together without speaking. Not around here. The patriarch shared stories and his experiences with his sons. Their wives contributed their perspectives and indulged us oldsters. All was right and the dinner took a luxurious amount of time, relaxed, animated and nourishing, in every sense of the word.
The thing is, I realized at the end as plates were being cleared, I hadn't eaten anything. Hadn't even thought about it. Not because I hadn't planned on eating. Prime rib? Are you kidding? I had been looking forward to it. But sitting at that table, set with family linen and china, dinner took a backseat to the experience. Food wasn't the point. Family was. I can't say that, prior to starting the ketogenic diet, did food often fall into the background. But now it really is often an afterthought. This is amazing and was unimaginable before.
So, that 'dinner' table could have been the Jenga table, or the jigsaw puzzle table. Or just the 'let's sit down and talk about what's going on with you' table. For me now, life is the focus. Dinner (or breakfast or lunch) aren't. And holding my little granddaughter as she slept gave me more sustenance than any thick slice of prime rib.
But I did eat some later. Again... it's prime rib!
Disclaimer: I’ve been fortunate to have had the time and resources to research the ketogenic diet, also known as LCHF (low carb/high fat). The information I share is based solely on my understanding of that research. We are all responsible for our own choices, including what we put in our mouths and there’s no substitute for each of us checking things out ourselves. And I’m not a medical professional in any way. Go Keto With Casey is not a medical site. “Duh,” you might say. But best to make it clear to all. I welcome questions, comments and even civil criticism. I’m still learning. So, if you have something to add, go for it. Links in this post and all others may direct you to affiliate links, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through those links. Thanks!