While the average meal lasts just a mere 20 minute, it’s clear from the research that spending that time with your children can benefit them significantly. Sharing meals as a family has the potential to reduce your child’s risk of developing a substance abuse problem, an eating disorder, and because it has the potential to improve your child’s nutritional habits, he/she may not have to deal with obesity.
So if there are proven benefits to spending mealtime together, why are so many families skipping it? Some don’t make time for it, choosing other tasks or distractions. Others have over scheduled themselves and their families so that time is tight. Still, making time has so many positive benefits that perhaps it’s time to work towards the goal of eating together as many nights a week as possible.
To be successful, you need to eliminate the outside influences – turn off the TV. Make having conversations the focus and not the bit that happens during commercials. Share your day and ask them to do the same. Ask what good things happened and what bad things happened – you’ll learn a lot from your children just by chatting about what’s been going on in their world.
Let kids help with meal planning and allow them to choose at least one meal a week. Give them age-appropriate tasks like setting or clearing the table, chopping vegetables, etc. Have them help you make a grocery list or check out the sales in Sunday’s paper to plan meals for the week.
Here’s a simple and easy meal from The Pampered Chef which comes in at a mere $2 per serving. This nutritional but inexpensive meal is a great replacement for the high fat and high sugar fast food meals many families are choosing. Good nutrition goes a long way toward healthier and happier children.