Enjoying meals together is a special time for families, but is especially beneficial for the kids. Experts say a special bonding takes place as kids gain improved nutrition and better health. They become better educated and are psychologically better grounded. Since social relationships and family values are also nourished during family meals….. experts say these kids are less likely to adopt risky behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, and are stronger emotionally.
A Harvard study published in Family Medicine showed that eating meals with the family on most days of the week is associated with a healthier lifestyle, especially when eating more nutrient dense foods. Those families who eat together have better overall health habits, and the kids do better in school. They are less likely to have weight issues, self esteem issues or become the subject of discipline problems.
Kids perceive that good eating habits are important when they see their parents making good food choices and displaying a healthy attitude about food. As a nutritionist, I suggest offering a variety of healthy foods, and sensible portion sizes at meals. Let everyone participate (especially the kids) in the tasks at mealtime. Preparing some foods, setting the table, serving, and the clean up should be encouraged. These chores go more quickly and easily while exchanging ideas and feelings, and talking over hopes and future plans.
Making mealtimes together a priority can enhance home life and health for every member of the family. It goes beyond just catching up on the kids’day, to building family closeness, and understanding. And, it can also be fun. Families who linger at meal times together tend to benefit in so many ways physically and socially.
Here are some tips you can use to create or enhance this tradition in your home:
Have a set time for dinner, but be flexible when needed. Turn off the TV and let phone calls go to voice mail.
Spend time at the table talking, focusing on family topics and keeping it positive.
Allow everyone have the opportunity to talk and to listen.
Serve more vegetables, fruits, water, whole-grains and lean proteins. Serve fewer sweet drinks, and only serve dessert on the weekend as a treat.
Having kids participate in the preparation of meals will make it likelier that they will try new foods.
Try to have breakfast and dinner together most days of the week, and more often on weekends.
Remember, Health is Wealth.
If you are ready to start a healthy diet and lifestyle program, or want to comment on any health issue we’ve covered in this column please call or write:
Health Restoration 101
P.O. Box 2814,
Savannah , GA 31402