Studies have shown that having meals at the dinner table, as a family, promotes healthy eating habits and food choices, as well as a healthier lifestyle. Children who eat at the dinner table with family have a lesser risk of becoming obese/overweight in their adult years. “It has been suggested that family meals, which tend to include fruits, vegetables, calcium, and whole grains, could be protective against obesity.”
Children and adolescents who have become comfortable with the habit of eating their meals in front of the TV, computer or on their bed, are at more risk for becoming obese/overweight in the future. “Family meals may be protective against obesity or overweight because coming together for meals may provide opportunities for emotional connections among family members, the food is more likely to be healthful, and adolescents may be exposed to parental modeling of healthful eating behaviors.” This study also recommended that even as little as 1-2 family dinners per week can have a positive impact on your children’s health.
We understand that weekdays can be hectic, so here are some easy tips to help you introduce family meals at the dinner table:
- Plan ahead. Pick two or three meals that you know will be easy and healthy to make during the week. Include them in your shopping list the week before so you will already have the ingredients on hand. Make a reminder to defrost any necessary items.
- Ask for help. Get your kids involved before the meal is even served. Have them peel potatoes, chop lettuce, set the dinner table, etc…Make it a whole family event.
- Cook in bulk. Rather than make enough for one night, try to make a larger batch so there are left overs for the following night. Soups, salads, and stews are great examples of foods that can be prepared in bulk.