Home for Dinner by Anne K. Fishel – Author Interview

home for dinnerHome for Dinner
Mixing Food, Fun and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids
By Anne K. Fishel, Ph.D.


Kids need more than food. They’re starving for family dinners.

Dinnertime has become a rare luxury among today’s busy families. Yet study after study shows that no other hour in your children’s day will deliver as many emotional and psychological benefits as the one spent sharing food and conversation, unwinding, and connecting. Increased resiliency and self-esteem, higher academic achievement, a healthier relationship to food — these and other positive outcomes have been linked to the simple act of eating dinner together.

Make it happen for your family with Harvard psychologist Anne Fishel’s impassioned by practical can-do primer for prioritizing mealtime. Dinner become doable with the tips, recipes, and heaps of inspiration packed into this one-stop family-happiness booster. Learn how to:

  • Overcome time-constraints, scheduling issues, and post-work fatigue
  • Put delicious food on the table with quick, healthy recipes
  • Get everyone to pitch in, even the littlest cooks
  • Bring gratitude to the table, and avert complaints and conflict
  • Satisfy varied taste buds, from picky toddlers to meat-denouncing teens
  • Get your family talking, laughing, and engaging with one another
  • Keep it up — with minimal hassle, and a lifetime of rewards

Anne FishelAnne K. Fishel, Ph.D.
, author of Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids, is the director of the Family and Couples Therapy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate clinical professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School. As cofounder of The Family Dinner Project, she has been interviewed by Good Housekeeping, NPR, The New York Times, and other national media. Dr. Fishel writes the popular blog “Digital Family” for Psychology Today. A mother of two young adult sons, she lives near Boston with her husband.

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“This transformative book will change your family’s life for the better. With persuasive research and delightful stories, Dr. Fishel offers solutions that any parent can put into place at home, around the table. You must read Home for Dinner . . . and so should every family therapist in America.”
— Michael Thompson, Ph.D., coauthor of Raising Cain


Author Interview

One food you would never eat? Raw beef.  To be honest, I would never eat cooked beef either.
Favorite things to eat for breakfast? Chocolate croissant, almond croissant, elephant ears — and a nice fruit salad to balance out all that lovely fat and sugar.
Please tell us in one sentence why we should read your book. My book will help you unlock the nutritional, psychological and intellectual benefits of family dinner, and help you experiment with new behaviors, tell more stories, play with your food, and get your kids interested in the wider world, (maybe even get them to be social activists)—and this is all during the time when you have to feed your family anyway.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. She grew up in Manhattan near where I grew up. She was curious about people and kept notes on all her observations, a practice I adopted after reading this book. She made her own rules and had her own voice. She was a writer and an observer of human behavior.  I think she grew up to be a psychologist who wrote about her observations.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Write about something you want to know more about. Writing is a process of discovery—you clarify and deepen your own thinking, and then go searching for more.
Favorite music? Van Morrison’s love songs.
Favorite smell? Toffee bars baking.
Something your readers would never guess about you
When I was an undergraduate at Harvard, I was in a clown troupe in NYC. I would sneak down on the train to attend rehearsals. When my parents found out, my father said, “Half your class is pre-law, and half is pre-med, but my daughter is pre-circus.”
Do you have any weird or interesting rituals you do to into writing mode or while
I like to take a writing problem into the water and swim while I let my mind roam about. Something about being in motion, untethered from gadgets, usually loosens up the mental logjams.
Who or what inspired your last book? Laurie Colwin, author of Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. When I was a young mother, I found inspiration from her light-hearted voice, family stories, and unfussy recipes.
If you were stuck in bed, what comfort food would want and what author would you want to read?
Baked eggs over wilted greens, avocados with lots of salt, chicken soup, and dark chocolate bars. I’ve always derived great comfort from reading mysteries—knowing that all that chaos and tumult is going to resolve in an explanation of who, what, why, where and how is deeply reassuring. When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me the plots of mysteries she was reading, like other mothers might have told their children fairy tales. I’m particularly fond of female mystery writers, like Faye Kellerman, Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. Interestingly, many female detectives, like characters in Disney movies, are orphans—if parents had been around, they wouldn’t allow all their children to have those adventures.
What is on your keeper shelf of books? Every novel by Virginia Woolf, Sigmund Freud’s collected works, Ruth Reichl’s  food memoirs, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Stuart Little, Eloise, Covering America by Chris Daly
What is your favorite quote
Can I give two short ones?
“Cooking is an art, but you eat it too.”
Marcella Hazan
“Happiness is equilibrium. Shift your weight.”
Tom Stoppard
I have a two-year old golden retriever, named Phoebe, who I got the week I started writing this book. She was a perpetualcause for procrastination (so much better than cleaning the house or watering the plants). After a few months, she liked to curl up under my desk with her head resting on my slippers.  Then, she helped me stay at my computer, because I didn’t want to disturb her.


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