Tip #11: Enact family meal time
If your day goes like most American families, you will agree that wishing the week had an extra day or a day had extra hours, is constantly on your mind! Between household chores, school projects, work commitments, after school activities, sport practices, (add you own busy schedule here), etc., life just passes by!
I know for me, a few minutes of down time feel like a luxury! With our lives as busy as they are, it is important to remember the perks of family time. This is where our tip today comes in handy! We all have to eat and we have to feed our families, right? Family meal time is family time and meal time combined. But why is there such a push for this?
Many studies have shown the benefits of having meals together. Some of the results from these studies show that making the time for family meals is worth it. Among these we can list a decreased risk of kids becoming overweight or obese, improved school achievement and higher intake of fruits and vegetables. If those don’t convince you, how about these? Kids being less likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and use illicit drugs. There are even more simple (but amazing) reasons to make sure that you schedule time for family meals. Think of the conversations you will have with your family. Eating together opens the door for daily communication and it is a great opportunity to hear each other’s struggles and achievements. Family meals also provide structure in our busy lives. For children and teens knowing what to expect at a certain part of the day makes them feel secure. For working adults it has shown to decrease the tension from long hours at the office. Furthermore, eating together helps us carry on family traditions – whether that is making a favorite breakfast on someone’s birthday, having a task for the weekend family picnic or saying a blessing before dinner time – whatever it is, it provides the ability to create memories! A little secret…believe it or not - it also helps your family save some money!
Now, let’s be realistic…I did start the post with the busy life topic; I am very aware that it doesn’t go away! So how do we make family meal time happen you ask? Well, plan ahead! Having the ingredients you need ready for pancake morning (yes, it doesn’t have to be dinner, a meal is a meal!), setting the crock-pot up in the morning for that night’s dinner or knowing who is picking up the sandwiches at lunch for picnic day makes eating together a reality. I have mentioned before how many of my family meals happen around our kitchen island – find what works for yours and go with it! Of course it takes a little effort but don’t forget the benefits.
Once meal time arrives, the key is to make it a positive experience! Limit distractions – no radio, no TV, no computers and no phones. Engage the family in conversation – think of topics everyone can discuss so they stay interested. Role model positive behavior with good table manners and healthy eating by offering and tasting new foods, using age-appropriate portion sizes and stopping when full. I know you and your family will look forward to that together time.
Buen provecho! Dig in! Bon appetit! Chow down! Eat up! Get your grub on! You choose.
March is National Nutrition Month! We have committed to do 14 blog posts that tackle an important topic in food and nutrition. To see all the posts we have done including some from previous years, click on “National Nutrition Month” under blog category.