A scene from the TV show Leave It to Beaver. The 1950s emphasized the importance of a happy nuclear family — and in popular media, the dining table often became a place to showcase these idealized dynamics. ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Communal meals are woven into our DNA. But eating alone is no longer a social taboo. iStockphoto hide caption

toggle caption iStockphoto
Party Of 1: We Are Eating A Lot Of Meals Alone
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/431994725/432122664" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Good advice, but strict rules at mealtime may backfire. iStockphoto.com hide caption

toggle caption iStockphoto.com
Selling Kids On Veggies When Rules Like 'Clean Your Plate' Fail
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/173275456/173399252" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

From left: 8-year-old Celedonia, 3-year-old Gavin, Amy Spencer and Doug Brown gather around the kitchen as Doug prepares a fruit salad for dinner. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR
Family Dinner: Treasured Tradition Or Bygone Ideal?
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/172897660/173000764" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript