Family dinners don’t have to be reserved for a formal meal during a holiday or special occasion, they can happen any day and time that works for your family. Eating together as a family is one of the most important things you can do for your kids. Studies show that when adolescents and young adults eat family meals, they have a better-quality diet and eat more fruits and vegetables, fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and less fast food. Additionally, the quality time and conversation over a meal encourages kids to use their memory and communication skills.
This time of year can be particularly busy, but if the words ‘I’m too busy’ come to mind, here are a few things to remember.
Strengthen Family Bonds
Dinner together as a family, even just a couple of times a week, can strengthen family bonds. It’s a dedicated time to connect with each other and discuss recent activities. Spending time together over a meal is a great way to keep family a priority, create positive family memories and reminds kids how important they are even amid a busy day-to-day life.
Improve Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Discussion around the dinner table actually helps kids to develop both communication and memory skills, as well as increase their vocabulary. Asking your kids to tell you about their day may seem like a simple question, but having them recall what happened allows them to use their working memory. In addition, having to sit quietly and listen to other family members improves kids’ listening and conversational skills.
Encourage Healthy Relationships with Food
When family meals are a priority, kids tend to eat healthier. Studies have found that children have more variety and real food in their diets and are less obese when compared to children who do not eat as a family. Beyond that, involving your kids in the preparation of the meal allows you to talk through how to cook, what you are making and why it is delicious. If you are one of the many parents that have picky eaters, kids are often more likely to try new foods when they are involved in meal preparation. Additionally, eating together allows you to teach your kids what a balanced meal looks like, what a proper portion size is and how to make healthier food choices. For example, drinking milk and eating vegetables as part of a family meal allows them to learn that this is a normal part of a meal.
Overall, when you eat together you’re providing more than just a meal and your kids will make healthier choices because of it. So, no matter how simple the meal, take time to sit down for dinner with your family to strengthen bonds and build healthy relationships with both people and food.