Mindful Dining Challenge

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By Kimberly Pope | Photos Courtesy The Pope Institute

Formal.Table.SettingLet’s talk about using paper plates and cups for daily use at home. Aside from the idea that it cuts back dishwasher usage, the prevailing driver is that it’s more functional for busy lifestyles. We are such an “on the go” society, that using an actual plate or glass has become archaic for some. I’m probably the only person in my family that uses china and glasses every day.

Years ago I adopted a different mindset. Every meal to me is a blessing and – if dining with others – it is an opportunity to spend quality time with others and enjoy said blessing. I don’t want to be too preoccupied with the business of the day that I end up treating a meal as a rushed moment of necessary sustenance. It also reminds me of my time in Europe and South Asia. A meal – be it a bite at a cafe or family style on a rug – was never rushed. Care was given to every part of it.

Here’s a challenge. Once a week forego the paper-plastic routine. For families, you can use this time to teach your children how to set the table. The ultimate challenge: sit down as a family during the meal (without distractions such as TV and cell phones). I have “everyday china” – white porcelain that’s safe for the oven, microwave and dishwasher. If all you have is “good” china, I promise it is okay to use it once a week.

Some things to keep in mind while dining:

  1. Remember the mnemonic device of “FOrKS.” Forks (“F”) go to the left of your plate (“O”) and to the right (“r”) of your plate go the knife (“K”), then the spoon (“S”).
  2. Taste your food before seasoning. It may not need it (and it might insult the cook).
  3. Cut your food one bite at a time (and chew) throughout the meal – don’t cut everything all at once. Cut-a-bite/chew/repeat. This also aids in pacing the meal.
  4. Be sure to thank the person that organized (i.e. cooked or bought) the meal.

So, have you accepted the challenge?  I’d love to hear from you on how it works out. Happy dining!


Woodbridge resident Kimberly Pope is the founder of The Pope Institute for Polish, Poise, & Etiquette, LLC in Prince William.  She is a Protocol and Executive Etiquette professional, certified through The Emily Post Institute and the Washington Center for Protocol.  Learn more at www.thepopeinstitute.com or email info@thepopeinstitute.com .


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