Sitting down to dinner is a concept that many families have difficulty doing these days. It can be for everyone to come together as a family for a dinner meal. At times, it seems like every night is full with after-work meetings, football practice or music lessons. However, making time for family meals is important. Take a look at the benefits it holds to children:
- Teaches table manners and conversation skills
- Improves eating habits, as children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when meals are shared with their parents
- Helps them develop a sense of security
- Helps them feel connected to their family
- Exposes them to new and different foods
- Teaches them patience (waiting for dishes to be passed, waiting until all are finished before leaving the table or waiting their turn to talk)
- Provides a great time for laughter and fun
It should be noted that the benefits are just as important to teenage children as they are to infants who are just starting to eat solid foods. Research has shown that teens who eat regular family meals do better in all ways- nutritionally, socially, emotionally and academically. A University of Minnesota study found that teens that ate the most meals with family had the least tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use. They also had higher grade point averages, less depression and less suicide. Specifically, in teen girls, the more meals that were consumed with family, the less likely they were to use extreme weight control measures (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158:792-796).
Make an effort that we can to schedule dinner time around extra-curricular activities. Turn off the television, light a candle and let the kids know that it is time to unwind and come together for a meal (even if your’re just having leftovers!).
Find the time to enjoy more family meals, no matter how simple they may be. It will help your family eat better, stay healthy and grow closer!
Nutrition Pair, LLC