Benefits of family meals are boundless

Photo by Emily Fairytale

Kids learn everything from good manners to life-lessons from their elders during nightly family dinners. But kids’ and parents busy school, work, play schedules have taken a toll on the value families place on sitting down to dinner together.

According to the Family Meals Movement, an organization established to promote the benefits of family getting together over food, between 8 and 10 parents say that it is important to eat at home together as a family.

That’s because families derive more benefits from dining together than just sharing a meal.

Here’s what WebMD has to say about that –

  • Everyone eats healthier meals
  • Kids are less likely to become overweight or obese
  • Kids more likely to stay away from cigarettes
  • They’re less likely to drink alcohol
  • They won’t likely try marijuana
  • They’re less likely to use illicit drugs
  • Friends won’t likely abuse prescription drugs
  • School grades will be better
  • You and your kids will talk more
  • You’ll be more likely to hear about a serious problem
  • Kids will feel like you’re proud of them
  • There will be less stress and tension at home

So how do families get back into the habit of eating together?

Here’s how to start, according to WebMD –

  • Set a goal.

Maybe once or twice a week and build from there.

  • Keep it simple.

Family meals don’t have to be elaborate, but they should be nutritious. So include salads and vegetables into meals but don’t ignore family favorites

  • Be prepared. Keep ingredients for healthful meals on hand.
  • Keep healthy “appetizers” on hand – fresh fruits, nuts, and low-fat cheese – things kids can snack on instead of chips.
  • Get the family involved.

Let kids help prepare meals and set the table.

  • Pick up take-out, order pizza, or eat out.

It still counts as quality time spent together.

  • Make it enjoyable.

Leave the serious discussions for another time.

“Family meals are for nourishment, comfort, and support,” WebMD said.

  • Set the mood.

Play soothing music. Put flowers on the table. Light a candle. Create a relaxing environment.

  • Finally, ditch devices, and ban them from the table.

“No TV allowed, no phones answered,” said WebMD “This is time for listening to each other, sharing the day’s stories, and nurturing the family connection.”

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