Leanne Ely: Building a Movement to Save Family Dinners

  width=LeanneElyTwitterEver wonder what the impact of eating dinner as a family is?

Turns out, beyond the warm memories, crazy conversations, delicious food, belly-laughs, awkward moments and occasional eye-rolling hissy-fits (ah, the teen years), having dinner together has a profound effect on the entire family.

Not only do people end up eating more nutritionally-balanced food, families stay closer and more connected. Kids’ risk of teenage pregnancy drops and according to research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), eating dinner as a family helps kids get better grades, and makes it a lot less likely they’ll use cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana.

New research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health adds also shows the more often families eat together, the better teenage kids fare emotionally. And interestingly, as reported in USA Today, 

“The effect doesn’t plateau after three or four dinners a week,” says co-author Frank Elgar, an associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montréal. “The more dinners a week the better.”

But, when today’s guest, Leanne Ely, decided to launch Saving Dinner, a quest to help families take back dinner more than a decade ago, she wasn’t driven by data. It was personal. She grew up in a house where family dinners were sacred. She saw the impact and, as a mom and a successful caterer, saw how families had increasingly abandoned it in the name of “busy-ness.”

So she set out to on a mission to help save the family dinner. To make it sacred again. And to empower families with the tools to make it easier. Saving Dinner has now grown into a global movement (and a thriving business) of more than 100,000 people. Leanne’s appeared on national TV, cooked for celebrities and royalty, written bestselling books and she’s now about to take things to a radically different level. You’ll see what I’m talking about toward the latter part of our conversation. #tease

In this week’s episode, we explore Leanne’s personal journey, the moments of awakening, a major personal health crisis and deep challenges that led her into her current path. We explore her “why,” what’s driving her and how her motivation has changed over the years. The conversation is wide-ranging, covering the evolving definition of success, a yearning for simplicity and how to counter pressure to conform and to schedule every moment of every day. We even dive into home-schooling and the facts and mythology around it.

And we dive into how her original vision has had to evolve in profound ways to accommodate both the way we live our lives and also the rapidly-shifting landscape of nutrition. How things like organics, non-GMO, farm-to-table co-mingle with the very real needs for efficiency and affordability.

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With gratitude,


P.S. – There was some kind of major incident happening just outside where we filmed, so at certain points you may hear a bit of sirens off in the background. We kind of like keeping the NYC flavor in the experience. #RealLifeRules

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