Thursday, October 6, 2016

Eight Things You Should NOT Say at Dinner

We've all opened our mouth and listened astonished as words flow out that we wish we could stuff back in. I have probably done it more than most. 

Don't you wish we could have some memorized rules about what we should and shouldn't say, especially at the table when we are trying to make it a fun and enjoyable time.

I've put together an incomplete list in no particular order of things that would be left best unsaid, whether at the nightly dinner table or a special holiday get together meal. Think about these and maybe you'll come up with some of your own.

1. "Can I just have some yogurt?" I actually had a friend whose husband would come to the table and ask this in front of their four young children! Unless you are sick (or severely allergic), you should eat whatever is being served. This also applies to any other substitute food you might wish for.

2. "What is this?" If you have no idea what you are eating, perhaps it's better not to know. But if you must, how about a question like, "This looks really interesting. What is this dish called?" You want to know what part of the cow we were served in South America? No, I promise you don't want to know, but we had the nerve to ask.

3. "Think of the starving children in [insert country]." What good does stuffing myself do for the starving children? If you think your child isn't eating enough, tell them that this is all they get until the next meal, so to be sure to eat enough. Then make sure you told them the truth. Or do a famine meal like the one described here.

4. "You can't have dessert unless you finish your vegetables." We've all said this. One solution is to not have dessert every night. Following that logic, I guess another solution would be to not have vegetables. This is a hard one. We don't want to teach them that they have to slog through the yucky food to get the yummy food, but we do want them to eat the nutritious food. Do you have a solution for this?

5. "Well, somebody is hungry!" If someone is overeating, calling attention to it in a sarcastic way or in front of others will not cause them to change their ways. It will just make them angry with you and ruin any good atmosphere you had going on.

6. "You are picky." If you say this to a child, maybe he'll start to believe it and get even pickier. If you say this to an adult, you are just insulting them. It might be true, but it won't change anything to comment on it.

7. "Did you like it?" [to a child trying a new food for the first time] Did you like broccoli, mushrooms, or olives the first time you tried them? Don't let them make a snap decision on something that needs time to get used to. Instead ask them, "What did it taste like?"

8. "Didn't you like it? You aren't eating much." As a person who doesn't eat large portions, I get frustrated when people think I don't like their food because I didn't stuff myself silly on it. I can't eat so much I'm uncomfortable, but in an hour, I'd be happy to have something again! (But I don't expect it from a host.)

What have you said that you wish you hadn't at meals?
What has been said to you, or in your hearing, that shouldn't have been said?

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  1. This is a great list

    I love the idea "maybe you just shouldn't serve vegetables ; )"

    I'd add "Let me tell you about the roadkill we saw on the highway today" or any other stomach-turning conversation. My Mom taught me this one, but I'm amazed how many folks have never heard this guideline.

    1. Roadkill would be pretty tame conversation compared to some of the things I've heard at our table. But when your husband travels internationally to all kinds of backwater places, eats what he is served and suffers the consequences...I agree. It's not meal time conversation!

  2. I truly enjoyed reading your post with all of the reminders as to what should not be said and why. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    1. Thanks so much! Now if I could only remember the list before I open my mouth! :-)

  3. Sharon, this is a great list! Parents (like the dad in #1) need to be conscious of how their remarks might affect children. I would add to the list commenting on the speed or slowness of someone's eating. A parent might talk to a child about it, away from the table, but I've even heard adults making such comments to adults.



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