Family meals are important. Children, youth and their families benefit from sharing family meals together. If eating meals together is not part of your family’s routine, now is a great time start making family meals a habit.
Benefits of family meals
Eating meals together as a family has benefits for the whole family. Family meals:
- Model nutrition and healthy eating habits to children and youth.
- Give family members time to talk and share about their days, interests, and any problems they may be having.
- Offer a time to pass on family traditions and customs to children and youth.
- Encourage speech and language skill development as you talk and share with one another.
- Improve school performance in children and youth and promote positive relationships with friends.
- Help children develop language and communication skills that will help them succeed in a school environment.
- Build resiliency in children and families. Resilience means that a person can deal with and react to changes or stress in a healthy way.
Getting started on family meals
If family meals are new to your family try starting with one family meal a week and add more as you can. The goal is to eat together 3 or more times a week. Choose a meal or day of the week that fits with everyone’s schedule so that it will be easier to make the habit stick.
Here are a few tips:
- Start with a goal of 1 family meal/snack a week and work your way up!
- Try starting with breakfast or a snack instead of dinner.
- Dedicate a table for eating family meals.
- Choose a meal or day of the week that fits with everyone’s schedule so that it will be easier to make the habit stick.
- If meal time discussion is hard to initiate – encourage your family to talk and share about their day, interests or any problems they may be having.
- Create a new tradition – for example: make Friday night “Make your own Pizza” night.
- Bake a healthy treat together and share it.
- Turn off the screens - meal times are most valuable when they do not involve computers, cell phones and electronics.
- Turn off the phone ringer and turn on the answering machine so that your meals are not interrupted.
- Keep meal times pleasant. Encourage children to recognize when they are hungry and full. It’s the adults job to provide a variety of healthy foods and the child’s job to decide how much to eat. Children’s appetites vary. As long as children are happy, active and growing, it will all balance out.
Family meals can easily become a part of your daily routine. Give it a try!
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