Family Meals Make a Difference

How many meals each week does your family eat together?  Research has shown that children who eat with their families tend to eat healthier, and when families eat together regularly, children of those families are less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs. Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™ (

The evening meal is a great time to find out how everyone’s day was at school, work, or other activities. However, evening is not the only time to have a family meal. Breakfast and lunch eaten together with the family can be just as important.  Ideally, the routine of family meals begins in early childhood and other distractions such as television and the telephone are avoided http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/raising-healthy-eaters-from-preschool-to-high-school .   A recent study from the University of Minnesota found that family mealtime is more important for emotional and intellectual development in children and teens than sports or additional time in school.

Let your routine begin with your children helping to prepare the meal. A great way to end the meal may be playing a game together after clean-up.

If you are pressed for time, try one of the many great recipes available for the crock pot. The slow cookers of today are worry free as they allow you to set the number of hours you want your dinner to be cooked and then keep it warm for up to 14 hours. If you didn’t have time to set up your crock pot, try a family stir-fry..

Try making a great Beef Stir-Fry full of vegetables such as broccoli, red bell peppers and snap peas, and lean beef served over cooked brown rice or find a low-cost stir-fry recipe at http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/stir-fried-beef. Add a spinach, mandarin and strawberry salad and angel food cake topped with strawberries to balance out the meal. For kid friendly meals or other family meal ideas, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at http://www.eatright.org/resources/kids-eat-right-listing/?active=recipes.

In summary, regular family meals are an important part of raising smart, healthy kids who are successful in life. The benefits of eating and talking together are many.  Eating together as a family helps:

  • Foster family unity.
  • Prevent behavior problems at home and school.
  • Enhance academic success.
  • Improve nutrition and health

 

Why not start making plans to eat together as a family today?