Research, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, says that children grow healthier in the families who dine together at least three times a week. Family meals is a wonderful opportunity to see each other and to talk. But most families find it hard to eat lunch or dinner together – adults work, children are involved in school and after-school activities. Nevertheless, you should meet together around the dinner table as often as possible. And here’s why.
5 good reasons to eat together
Family dinners prevent overweight. Three or more family meals per week (with at least one parent eating together with the kids and homemade food) reduce the chance of overweight in children by 12%.
Family dinners accustom children to healthy food. Eating habits formed in the childhood are life-long as a rule. If eating family meals is already a tradition, probability that children will choose unhealthy foods is reduced by 20%. Teach your children to enjoy healthy meal and avoid tempting offers of fast food, and it will be the best gift to them for the rest of their life.
Family meals protect kids from eating disorders. Children and teens who eat dinner together with their families at least three times a week are 35% less likely to suffer from anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders.
Family meals help to improve the social and emotional health in both children and adults. Social and emotional health implies an ability to understand the feelings of other people, to show your sympathy to them, to manage your emotions and to build positive relationships with the peers and adults. Long-term studies have proven that young children with high levels of social and emotional health do great academically. And guess what children are these? Right, the ones who grew up in the families who have a rule to eat together and tell how their day was, discuss the good news, plan their weekends or trips.
European scientists have proven that children whose families eat meals together, do better academically. They are less likely to contact a bad company, to try to smoke or use drugs. That’s because every day while eating dinner together with their families, they get a portion of love and understanding, thus they feel more confident and try not to disappoint their parents.
How to gather the whole family at the dinner table?
Not everyone is ready to form a new habit. Do not give up; keep trying if your close people aren’t immediately interested in eating together. You can motivate your family by choosing a new interesting recipe or cooking their favorite meal. Beautiful dishes and elegant tablecloth could be an additional stimulus. The most important thing is that your family gathers around the dinner table in a good mood. If you have no opportunity to eat together during the working week, do it on the weekend. Then you could invite grandparents or other relatives. This way both adults and children will feel an important part of a large and happy family.
For your family members have a desire to gather and spend more time with each other, it is necessary to follow a few rules and not to break them in any case.
1. Plan the menu, day, and the time of eating together and let your family know about it ahead of time. Find out what they would like to eat.
2. Set a rule that as long as you eat together you won’t discuss unpleasant topics. Eating is a delight, time for peace, but not for conflicts and problem solving. Every topic that can be unpleasant to any member of your family is a taboo: problems at work, bad marks in school, personal failures. Family meal should bring all of you only joy.
3. While eating together, turn off the TV, radio, and other devices that can distract you from communicating with each other.
4. Don’t put pressure on each other when eating. Don’t say phrases like “eat more bread”, “you’ll never be strong if you do not eat more meat”. Everyone eats what he wants (of course, the food on the table) and as much as he likes.
5. Let each family member share his news and life events.
6. Always joke, tell funny stories, and anecdotes while dining. Laugh and have fun together.
How to dine together if everyone is busy?
Sometimes the pace of our life makes it very difficult to gather around the dinner table, and it’s much easier to have a snack. However, fast food is a habit that is easy to acquire but difficult to get rid of. So, try to instill healthy food and life habits in your children.
Here are some proven ways to make eating together a reality even after a hard day.
Freeze the food. When cooking dinner, prepare the food twice the required amount and freeze the half of it. For example, if you know that Thursday nights are always busy and Tuesday ones are free, then plan to buy foods and cook a double portion of meal on Tuesday, so that you can calmly eat the same dish together on Thursday. To make the process of cooking easier you can buy an extra freezer, and in extreme cases, buy frozen meals.
Use a multicooker. Put all the ingredients in it, set the needed time and the dinner will have been cooked by the time you come home.
Use disposable dishes. If you are really busy, do not be afraid to use disposable plates and cups at home. Thus, you won’t have any problems with dishwashing. And it is better to eat healthy homemade food from paper plates, than buying fast food.
When your children grow up, they will always remember about the fun and warm family mealtimes. They will know how important it is to dine together as a family, and of course, will teach their children to do so. Therefore, we should start creating these wonderful memories right now.