Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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6 Reasons to Make Family Mealtime a Priority
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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Feb
2
2010

When was the last time you sat down and enjoyed mealtime with your family? Hopefully it was the last meal you ate but if you’re like many American’s it might not have been that recent. With all the errands, appointments, obligations, and our increasingly mobile lifestyle the idea of family meals is becoming a thing of the past. But while eating together may be a less frequent event the proof of its benefits are becoming more and more apparent. Here are six of those benefits that should convince you to find some time to gather around the dinner table with your loved ones:

1. SOCIALIZING

Taking the time to prepare and enjoy a meal allows for the opportunity to communicate and open up, vent, and hear about what is going on with the other members of your family. In a sense, it’s a way of blowing off steam and can keep you in the “family loop”. Socializing while eating can also help you lose weight? How you ask? Just think about this: conversing during meals will allow your body to take more time in between bites, leading to an increase in digestion between additional servings leading to a greater feeling of fullness, which in turn can lead to an overall decrease in consumption and ultimately a potential for weight loss.

2. EXPANDING THE PALATE

Getting together and involving your kids in shopping, preparing and serving meals can serve as an opportunity for your children, and yourself, to eat a greater variety of healthy foods. As research suggests, family meals are significantly related to greater intakes of healthful foods and nutrients that are often consumed in lesser amounts while eating away from home. In addition, by continually exposing your family to better eating habits and different foods, it’s more likely those same habits will be followed later in life.

3. HEALTHIER OPTIONS

Data has shown that meals cooked at home typically are higher in nutrients like calcium, fiber, folate and vitamins A and C and less in nutrients like saturated fat and sodium. Beverages like pop and alcohol, which are high in sugar and calories are also consumed less. Combine these benefits and you have an opportunity to have a healthier diet and a chance to lose weight.

4. LEARNING

To put it simply, the kitchen is a classroom. Luckily for your kids there’s no homework and better yet, no detention! Besides the obvious potential for improvement in culinary skills and the social component we already mentioned, which can help improve the development of language skills, preparing and having meals at home with the family can also improve math and literacy skills. Each time your children read a food label or cooking instructions, or use measuring utensils or calculate servings you are incorporating math and reading skills into activities your kids can find fun and enjoyable, all while helping out.

5. SAVING MONEY

Here’s a statistic to remember: meals purchased away from home can be as much as two to four times more expensive than meals prepared at home. That alone should be motivation enough to prepare some meals at home with the family but if not combine the other benefits mentioned above and this could lead to not only a fatter wallet but a slimmer waist as well.

6. LESS TROUBLED KIDS

Just in case the previous 5 reasons aren’t enough to get you eating as a family more often, here’s one for you. Researchers have shown that teens who eat with their families on average five times a week are less likely to be troubled teens compared to those who eat with their families three or fewer times per week. The teens who didn’t eat together as a family as often were more likely to do drugs, be depressed, less motivated at school, and had weaker peer relationships.

What is considered eating together? All family members are gathered together around the same table at the same time. No one is eating in another room and televisions are off.

So, get your kids started young at eating together but if you are often challenged by the lack of conversation consider buying Dinner Games or Family Table Topics which can both be purchased on Amazon.com. My kids love these games!

Assistance provided by Robert Masterson.

One thought on “6 Reasons to Make Family Mealtime a Priority

  1. Family dinners are one of my most favorite childhood memories. I also enjoyed helping to prepare meals with my parents. It is something I am going to do with my own family someday!

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