When was the last time you sat down for a meal with your family? Was it last night, last week or last month? Family meals don’t have to be reserved for special occasions. Family meals can happen any time of day, any day of the week!
If the words “I’m too busy” pop into your mind, you’re not alone.
But family meals can fit into even the busiest of schedules and they offer lots of benefits for children and adults alike!
Research on family meals and their benefits includes these findings:
• Dining as a family can create an environment for parents to lead by example for their children. Children who eat with their families consume more fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy foods compared to those who eat fewer family meals. Parents will be thrilled to learn that young adults who were raised eating regular family meals consume more vegetables as adults.
• Adults also report that eating as a family is a positive portion of their day. Mealtime creates a feeling of togetherness and promotes communication among family members.
But the benefits of family meals go beyond nutrition and family unity. Family meals are also an opportunity to promote child development. Regular family meals teach children many things that will enrich their lives beyond the immediate health benefits of eating nutritious food.
• Memories Taking the time to sit together at mealtime helps create positive memories for yourself and your family.
• Enjoyment The first and most important place where children learn positive attitudes about food is in the home.
• Self Esteem Mealtime conversation brings the family together and promotes positive self-esteem in children.
• Life skills Children learn best by doing, not watching, so get them involved! You can teach children how to cook balanced meals for themselves by including them in meal planning and preparation.
• Traditions Mealtime is an ideal time to strengthen family ties and pass on family traditions. Whether you are celebrating a holiday or just eating an everyday meal, things you do in your home will be passed down to your children and grandchildren.
• Curiosity Kids are more likely to try new foods when they are involved in meal preparation. They have a natural curiosity about food so be sure to offer new foods at mealtime.
• Love Children watch and imitate adults, and look to them to learn proper behavior for everything from saying please and thank you to learning about eating well. Mealtime is the ideal time to remind your children every day that they are important and loved.
Celebrate Family Mealtime with your family!!