Is it OK to have a TV dinner? Two busy women reveal how they feel about it

Tea on a tray while staring at the box or dinner with the whole family sat at the table?

Neutral living room with cream facing sofas and a tv on a shelving unit
(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Is it OK to have dinner in front of the TV? It's a hot topic amongst super-busy families trying to balance long working days, feeding a hungry crowd of all ages and getting some important relaxation time for yourself. 

In a recent poll for Ideal Home, you voted in favour of a eating your tea in front of the TV with 65 percent saying 'yes' it is ok to have dinner in front of the TV, and only 38 per cent voting no. However, with one of the closest margins in our debate polls so far it's definitely a controversial topic.

Big question tv dinners

(Image credit: Future)

Here's how two women feel about whether it is OK to have dinner in front of the TV...

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(Image credit: Future)

Sarupa, 46, lives with her partner Michael  in a two-bedroom garden flat in northwest London.

‘During the week, our evening meals are always timed to coincide with EastEnders or a cookery programme, such as MasterChef. We spend all day speaking to clients, and it’s just nice to have some downtime when we can both stop talking and focus on something relatively mindless while we sit on the sofa and eat our dinner. Besides, neither of us were allowed to eat in front of the TV when we were growing up, so it does feel a bit rebellious! 

'Sitting in front of unchallenging TV allows us to reflect on the day and process everything. We might watch something more “stretching”, like a documentary, after dinner. That’s when we’ll shout back at the TV and discuss things with each other. 

'I also think it aids your digestion if you don’t talk while you eat. I know there’s a school of thought that says we tend to eat mindlessly in front of the TV, but I’m always fully aware of, and grateful for, what I’m eating. And we don’t overeat: the trick is simply to not put too much food on your plate.

'Eating on the sofa doesn’t mean the meal can’t be special. It’s about being relaxed and not needing to sit upright in a chair.’

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(Image credit: Future)

Lucy, 45, lives with her husband Dan and their two daughters, 13, and, six, in
a four-bed house in Chichester. 

‘Time spent eating together around a table is rarely wasted. It provides an opportunity for couples and families to connect and talk with one another away from screens. It enables parents to check in with their kids, particularly teenagers, and find out how their days have been. It also makes it easier to tackle fussy eating. Kids learn by example and if they see their parents eating healthy food, they’re more likely to do the same. And if the kids aren’t around, it gives busy couples a rare chance to just sit and have a chat. 

'Both our kids have learned conversational skills and good table manners from our family dinners, and I’m very proud of that. It’s also taught them that they don’t need digital entertainment while they eat, so they’re impeccably behaved when we’re in restaurants, too.

'If the kids are hungry earlier than us, one or both of us will still sit and chat to them while they eat at the table – then Dan and I will also have our meal there later. Most of my friends without children say they prefer to sit at the table and lay things out properly, too. You’re also more likely to all eat a home-cooked meal, rather than eating “on the hoof”. That said, we’d still eat a takeaway at the table. It’s not
just about the food. It’s about spending quality time together as a family. If you’re talking while you eat, you eat more slowly and are more likely to notice
when you’re full. 

'Plus, slumping on the sofa just isn’t good for you. I honestly think you’re a better version of yourself if you’re sitting up properly at the dining table.’

Interviews by Jane Murphy

Rhoda Parry

Rhoda Parry was the Editorial Director of Ideal Home and its sister titles, 25 Beautiful Homes and Style at Home from 2021-2022. She wass also Editorial Director for Gardeningetc, Amateur Gardening and Easy Gardens. Rhoda is a highly experienced editor and journalist and has worked on many women's lifestyle media brands throughout her career. For the last 20 years, she has specialised in homes, interiors and gardens. A storyteller at heart, Rhoda is passionate about championing, crafting and creating exciting written and visual content for digital, print and experiential audiences.