~ fed to you by Jeana Neu MS/CHES the EAT Up Expert
There is no better time than now to make a priority of the family meal. September is Family Meals Month which is a good reminder to schedule having a meal together now that school is back in session and families are apart for most of the day. It does not have to be a gourmet meal, even take-out will do, but the TV must be off and everyone needs to sit down together to benefit from this nourishing experience.
Research has shown time spent during family meals improves academic achievement, boosts vocabulary, increases consumption of fruits and veggies, and encourages healthy eating habits. Regular mealtimes also reduce the risk of depression, suicidal thoughts, and high risk teen behaviors such as drinking and drug use. In addition, children who dine with their families have an improved mood and have a more positive outlook on life.
So, how can gathering around the dinner table make such a profound difference? Families are apart all day, experiencing many events and changes, dinner may be the only chance to catch up, talk about the day, and feel supported. A key to making your dinner a success: avoid being too restrictive and instead create a positive environment and share stories about the day. Try asking about a favorite part of the day, least favorite part of the day, and have each person ask a question of another person. Honestly, it’s less about the food and more about the conversation.
Make a priority out of bringing back the family meal. Together you and your family will tuck in and fill up on family connection which will leave you all feeling more satisfied.
Jeana is the founder of EAT Up – Easy, Affordable Tasty Upgrades to Food, a certified health educator and nutrition advocacy consultant. Follow her @eatupexpert
Sources: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University; Harvard School of Medicine; The Family Dinner Project; National Family Meals Month