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Celebrity Q+A: Laurie David

Environmentalist Laurie David, producer of the award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, has a new mission: Protecting that endangered ritual known as the family dinner.
Laurie David
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Maryellen Baker

What converted you to the cause?
I was sitting in the kitchen with my two teen daughters one night, after my divorce [from Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David]. Dessert was long gone, but there we were, talking on and on about politics, school, mean girls. In my mind I floated above the table, looked down and thought, "OMG, I've actually done something right as a parent!" It was an epiphany.

And a new tradition was born...
Reborn, actually. We had sit-down suppers when I was kid, but I barely remember one that didn't end with someone crying. I was determined to make it a sacred, stress-free time for my family and started doing that early on. When I got involved with global warming, it was the first thing to go, but we eventually got back on track. Even now Larry comes over about once a week.

I credit the ritual with keeping us connected through good times and bad. That's what all the experts say. I didn't know about the research until I started writing my book, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time (Grand Central Life & Style). I was floored to learn that children who eat with their families are less likely to abuse drugs and more likely to get A's and B's, and have better relationships. It makes sense. If we don't sit at the table together, what else are we doing at the same time, other than sleeping?

Any advice for working moms?
It's not about food, it's about bonding with your kids. Forget the roast and three sides—cook breakfast for dinner! Make extra so you'll have leftovers. Order in. At our house, if it's Sunday it must be Chinese takeout. And yes, we eat right out of the cartons.

Originally published in the December 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.