Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Family Meals for Healthy Kids

By: Heather Dyson

We've all heard the saying, “a family that plays together, stays together,” but it also true that a family that eats together, stays healthy together! Studies show that kids who regularly sit down to meals with their parent(s) even as few as 3 times a week have better eating habits, do better in school and develop healthier social skills than kids who rarely have a family meal. Kids who eat with their family tend to eat a wider variety of food, mostly because they see others at the table eating different foods, including those pesky vegetables. The benefits of eating with our kids reach far beyond food, though. Sitting down to a meal encourages conversation, a rare opportunity for parents to hear what is going on in their children’s world. Frequent family meals are also associated with lower rates of smoking, alcohol and drug use among middle and high school aged kids. All from something as simple as sharing a meal!
If conflicting schedules make daily family dinners impossible, no need to worry! There are 21 meals each week, which means 21 opportunities for sharing a meal with your kids. Remember: you are only aiming for at least 3! Extracurricular activities got you running in the evenings? Focus on the weekends to share a family brunch. Try dedicating one morning a week to get up 15 minutes earlier to have a bowl of cereal with your youngster. Or plan one evening a week where the family can make a simple meal together, so mom or dad isn't solo in the kitchen while everyone roams off with their plates. A family pizza night is quick and easy and can be healthy if you make your own. Purchase pre-made whole grain crust, seasoned tomato or pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, turkey pepperoni and pre-chopped veggies for a meal that can be put together in minutes and cooked in even less time! Or try something new like these pizza sauces! At the ball field 4 nights a week? Pack sandwiches, raw veggies, fruit, baked chips and bottled water to eat as a picnic after practice.

Getting into the habit of eating family meals while your children are young will make the transition easier as they get older. Just be sure to keep it a priority and remember you don’t have to be perfect and sit down to a fancy meal every night. Kids will cherish and benefit from simply sharing any meal with the most important people in their lives!


About the Author: Heather Dyson is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian who currently focuses on counseling patients with a variety of health situations, and in ages ranging from infancy to elderly. Click here to learn more about Heather.

20 comments :

  1. We try really hard to have a well balanced dinner, all together, at the dinner table for our daughter! I think that time is really important because sometimes that little bit of time is the only time during a crazy day we are all together.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We are the same way! Life is busy but you must eat so why not do it together?!

    ReplyDelete
  3. So, so important to sit down for a meal with my little ones! It's easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle but we try to eat two meals together every day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is great!!! Keep up the togetherness

      Delete
  4. Great tips. It's hard for us to do meals together as a family because my husband works nights, but we aim for at least one meal a day. Three meals a week is very doable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Breakfast together counts!!! You are still all together

      Delete
  5. I like sitting down together for meals, but with work and school and other events its so hard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is really hard but even just 1 or 2 meals together is great!

      Delete
  6. We are super busy and both work full time, but we do pretty good at eating together each night! Its my favorite time of the day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bedtime is my favorite;) just kidding!!

      Delete
  7. It's so important for me to have a healthy balanced diet for my son, sometimes I end up doing the total opposite because I didn't ahve time and didn't plan ahead! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's ok!! If you're eating that's what counts

      Delete
  8. We enjoy this family time around our table so much we can hardly talk ourselves into eating out at restaurants any more. Saves us money and we're at home together!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is awesome!!! If hubby and I go out to dinner, we eat so fast and don't talk! How having little ones changes everything:)

      Delete
  9. We always eat together!! We are big pizza eaters, we make ours from scratch so I know everything that's in it. The kids really enjoy putting on the toppings. It's a fun thing to do as a family. Healthy habits start young.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right!!! I bet my little one would love making pizza...I'm not sure anything would be on the final product since she would probably eat all the veggies before cooking but oh well!!

      Delete
  10. Great reminder! We sit down with our kids every night, but it's easy to be in a schedule with them because they're young. I can imagine it's harder to remember when they get older.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We love making our own pizzas at home! My son loves to have his loaded with mushrooms and cheese, he says it tastes better than delivery. I like it because it is so much cheaper.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Our kids always eat better if we're all sitting at the table together. Some days it is easier to do than others, but a good habit to get into. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

Choosy's Blog Archive