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The Importance of Family Meals

8/22/2018 | Alyssa Bosse, RDN, LD

Did you know that children whose families regularly eat meals together tend to have better social skills and fitness levels? Family meals are important for children because they yield multiple physical and mental health benefits, here's the proof:

Eating together as a family supports a child's academic success and social-emotional health.  

The Social Benefits

  • Parents and caregivers are given the opportunity to be role models.
  • At the family table, kids will learn prosocial interactions in a familiar and emotionally secure setting.
  • Parents and caregivers can provide young children with firsthand social interaction, discussions of social issues, and day-to-day concerns.
  • Engaging in positive forms of communication may likely help the child engage in better communication skills with people outside of the family unit.
  • Children learn through observation and enthusiastic parents who enjoy food will be good examples for children.
  • In order to have these benefits, family meals must be at a table with no distractions! No TV and no phones, it's valuable time.

5 tips to make family meals a priority

  • Make a weekly meal plan. Keep in mind obligations like teacher conferences, birthday parties, or whatever conflicts with your time to eat dinner together.
  • When planning a meal, try to incorporate at least 3 of the main food groups- with one being a fruit or vegetable.
  • Ask your whole family about what they want to eat. This is important in order to have eating be a pleasant experience.
  • Go to the store each week and prep as much as you can. It's much easier to eat celery when it is already cut up and washed, rather than seeing it in the big bag.
  • Freeze your leftovers. Soups, rice, and pasta dishes all do well when thawed out in the fridge the night before.
  • Avoid spoiled food! Make sure to label the container with a date.

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