What Really Happens At The Great British Table

October 12, 2016 Paul Hajek

Isn’t it true that when it comes to house hunting, a major consideration is always whether your dining or kitchen table will fit into a place? Yet it seems that the role of the table as a focus for family meals is not its major function in the 21st century, according to recent research.

As it turns out, 78% of Brits don’t sit down at the table every day to eat and the average person will eat 23 meals every month whilst lounging on the sofa.

The average dining table has a lifetime of ten years and during that period it will experience:

  • 132 arguments
  • 93 bombshell announcements
  • 104 moments of passion
  • 594 homework sessions
  • 259 kids’ tantrums

As if that weren’t enough, the average UK table will see 1,101 meals go unfinished, suffer 1,995 food and drink spills plus 312 impromptu naps. The average British adult will also complete an incredible 1,890 hours of admin or work at their table over their lifetime – that’s the equivalent of 236 eight-hour work shifts!

Homework at the dinner table

Unhealthy habits

All this means the average Brit will spend 4,864 hours, or a huge 202 full days, sitting at a table over the course of their adult lifetime. However, when it comes to eating, it takes Brits just 10 minutes to actually clear their plate of food. No wonder we’re a nation of gastric sufferers.

After eating, people linger for just 10 more minutes before rushing back to busy lifestyles, which could be having a detrimental effect on family life as well as their health. In comparison to the Brits paltry 10 minutes a day given over to eating at the table, our Italian counterparts, for example, seem to revere food means time and will spend twice as long over meals.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Nihara Krause, a clinical psychologist, said;

“Making time to incorporate a family meal together is a simple, enjoyable and effective way of ensuring a happier family life. It provides a regular opportunity for family members to communicate, which not only builds bonds, but also aids emotional development and resilience.’

And it seems Brits should know better – over half of those polled said they enjoy talking and finding out more about their loved ones during meals at the table together, but still choose to eat on the sofa an average of 5 times a week! This means that over the lifetime of the average adult, approximately 17,660 meals will be eaten on the couch. Talk about couch potatoes, this is more like couch three-course meals!

Eating on the sofa!

What do we talk about?

An average of five different topics of conversation are usually covered during the evening meal. Film and TV are the most popular, followed by gossip and then politics. Work, kids and school come next followed, surprisingly, by holidays. Although if you are planning to move house, this will probably be your main focus.

Unlike their Italian cousins, the majority of Brits don’t see the dining table as the heart of the home. When it comes to a special occasion however, we’ll up the ante and commit to well over an hour to get things right – steady on there. Time spent at the table also increases when we have company; during dinner parties we’ll spend an average of 1 hour 40 minutes sitting down together – five times longer than for a normal meal.

Large family chatting at the dinner table

It seems these new rules for eating have come about over the last few decades due to all sorts of things including our reliance on fast food and time pressures too. Food, its preparation and the joy of sitting down to a meal together were a key part of family life well into the 20th century.

Who knows what changes we might see if families agreed to spend 15 minutes a day together eating and having a chinwag?

Cleared plate after a chatty meal

Research courtesy of www.liveitalian.co.uk

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