It is National Eat Better – Eat Together Month! We know it’s tough to make family mealtime a priority, especially right now with all the competing priorities during the current COVID-19 pandemic. However families that eat together see many benefits, and family meals may even help us all weather this storm better.
Scientific studies indicate that there are numerous benefits from family mealtime that cannot be ignored.
- There is a positive association between reported frequency of family meals and parent-child connectedness. 1
- A survey conducted in 2000 found that 9 to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently consumed more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. They are also more likely to try new foods and their diets had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber. 2
- Students who eat five times or more with their family each week are 40% more likely to make A’s & B’s, excel in standardized achievement tests, and exhibit a better vocabulary and overall reading comprehension. 2
So, what are five simple ways to make this a reality rather than another thing you need to feel guilty about?
- Give mealtime equal priority – Your calendar is crammed, your to do-list a mile long, and a lot of what’s on there is marked “Urgent.” If you’re going to make family dinner happen, you need to give it equal priority.3 Put all technology away and focus on what’s important, family!
- Keep it simple silly (KISS) – There’s no need for a five-course gourmet meal. Focus on easy to prepare foods that your family will like, with ingredients that are right in your pantry. There are several cookbooks and websites that offer five ingredient recipes, give them a try. Or better yet, check out healthy and nutritious recipes at our Naturopathic Kitchen.
- Be prepared – Think ahead on the weekend of what your daily meal plan is for the week and write it down. With a plan, you don’t have to think about what to cook after an already full day.
- Involve the family – Working together makes meal preparation go faster and teaching children how to prepare meals from an early age readies them for adulthood. In addition, the more each family member contributes to the family meal, the more likely they are to enjoy it, take pride in it, and feel that it is theirs.3
- Make it a “Happy Place!” – For the family meal to work, it needs to feel like a shelter from the experiences of the day and like a reward instead of a task for the whole family.3 Use this time to connect, renew, encourage, support and love each other!
1 Journal of Family Studies. Feb2019, Vol. 25 Issue 1, p34-45. 12p.
2 PR Newswire US, 10/02/2018
3 Dowling, Daisy Wademan. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles. 5/27/2019, p2-5. 4p.