One of the benefits of my dear wife's new employment and me staying at home is that we eat together at the table at least once per day. I remember times when we ate together twice per week on average. I have read plenty saying how this is not good for children, let alone a marriage. I left full-time work in order to stabilize our home life--so our children understand where they're going to be on a daily basis (sometimes we didn't even understand when we were both serving different congregations full-time). This move hasn't been only good for our children, but for the adults and for the whole family.
Watching the 2-year-old eat is fascinating. Our oldest daughter has always been a prolific eater. She eats too much of a few foods, though she will eat a variety and at least try new things on occasion. The 2-year-old really only eats when she's hungry. Just because we sit down for a meal doesn't mean she will actually eat. She gravitates toward junk-type food (a consequence I induced while trying to eat on the cheap), though at significantly reduced levels since using the Feingold Diet. If someone allowed her milk, chips, chocolate, and an occasional banana, she would be perfectly content. I remember days when food was less about social convention than nutrition. These were days in my 20's when I lived as a vegetarian and didn't care what I was "supposed" to eat by society's standards--I stuck with grains and veggies. I've almost completely lost my way since then. Eating these days is manipulated by emotion. This is a bad equation.
I admire in many ways how my 2-year-old eats. Since we went to the Feingold Diet, her diet is much better. She eats when she's hungry, and doesn't eat any more than necessary. She had a fit during the evening meal last night and went to her bedroom. She came downstairs later, ate about 15 black beans and went swimming. When we returned from the pool, she ate 2 bowls of popcorn, and drank a glass of lemonade. The girl looks good--from all the running around and better nutrition, we might actually raise a healthy daughter. She has plenty of time to pick up on variety--she tests for new foods to add to her repertoire by licking them (and mostly rejecting them) first. I don't aspire to that idiosyncrasy of her diet, but she continues to teach me if I will be willing to learn.