Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Importance of Family Meals

Known as breaking bread, having a meal together has long been touted as a way to bond, build your relationship, and connect. For those reasons and more, it’s especially important for families to have meals together on a regular basis. Not convinced of the importance of this ritual? Read on for research, facts, and fun ways to make mealtime significant and memorable.

Why is eating together important?

Research has found a correlation between having meals as a family and:

Healthier kids.  Studies show those who sit down for meals together eat “more fruits, vegetables, and fibers; less fried foods; and often few calories.”  According to a Cornell University report, kids who have regular family meals are less likely to be overweight and have lower rates of substance abuse and teen pregnancy.
Relationship building time. Talking, listening, offering support, and giving advice to each other are important relationship-building skills family members are developing. Studies show that kids who have family meals together regularly are more likely to have higher self-esteem compared to those who don’t.
Making memories as a family. Years after they’ve moved out on their own, your children will still speak of the times they made meals together as well as many antidotes that were shared around the table.

What does meal preparation teach kids?

By assisting with meal planning and preparation, kids learn valuable skills, including:

1. How to follow instructions.  Whether following a recipe or taking direction from another person, learning to pull together ingredients and prepare a meal provides an important lesson for children of all ages.
2. Self-sufficiency.  Even putting together the simplest of meals teaches kids how to fend for themselves.
3. Working with food can be fun!  Kids who enjoy working with food can turn that interest into a career in the culinary arts. At the very least, those who actually make meals should develop a healthy attitude toward planning and preparing meals.

How can you enjoy your mealtime together?

Be consistent. It’s important to stick to that schedule. If your weeks are too hectic with outside activities, weekend nights are a great option for dining together.
Make it fun! Choose an option such as Mexican food for a fresh approach to family mealtime. Italian, Chinese, and create-your-own pizza are other options.
Enlist the help of everyone in the family. Some family members may help prepare food, and others might set the table. Regardless of how they participate, make sure everyone is involved.
Encourage conversation. Institute a no-phone, no-texting rule, and get the conversation going by asking questions and sharing stories, according to a report from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Ideas for family mealtime:

Quick meals:  Those meals you can make in less than 15 minutes are easy to pull together with store-bought ingredients added to a few items from home. Examples:  pizza and tacos.
One-pot dishes: Casseroles, soups, chili, and slow-cooker meals are all great ideas for dishes that can be prepared in one dish. Add salad and a dessert, and you have a complete meal.
Stir fries or soup and salad: Easy, delicious meal options that can be pulled together quickly.
Check out more meal ideas and recipes at this site.

Instituting family mealtime can have a great impact on your family members, both individually and collectively. Make family mealtime a priority, and watch the positive effect it has on everyone.

 Live Healthy. Live Smart

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