Bringing Families to the Table
Family mealtime is an excellent opportunity for strengthening family relationships. With today's busy lifestyles and hectic schedules, it is easy for parents to overlook the importance of having meals together as a family on a regular basis.
Studies show the more often a child eats with the family, the less likely that child is to someday smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs. Teens who have regular family meals are less likely to get into fights, get suspended from school, have sex, or have suicidal thoughts.
Instead, children who have frequent family meals are more likely to do better in school, develop positive eating habits, and adopt healthy behavior. Family meals promote bonding and family interaction. They can help children improve their self-esteem and develop social skills that can last a lifetime.
Family mealtime can be used as an opportunity for parents and children to discover and carry out important aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Family Dining
Sharing a meal nourishes the body and the soul. Family mealtime provides the setting for moral, spiritual, and intellectual discussion and teaching. Eating flavorful, healthy foods is one of life's greatest pleasures, especially when shared with the family. The memories of shared meals last a lifetime. The benefits of eating together make family mealtime a tradition worth pursuing.
Hassle-Free Family Dinners
Family traditions have been created around food and meals, but why wait for a holiday or special event to celebrate a meal together? Eating dinner together on a regular basis doesn't have to be a hassle; instead it can offer many healthy benefits to your family. Ideas to make family dinners stress-free begin with shopping smart, making a list and sticking to it, and shopping just once a week or less. You can share simple tasks around the kitchen, choosing tasks that meet family member's abilities. Keep your kitchen stocked with foods that can be prepared in a hurry, such as foods you can broil, stir-fry, or microwave, or chose "no-cook" meals such as sandwiches and salads when time is short. When you have more time for cooking, cook meals that freeze well and prepare enough for that day and a later meal.
Safe Food Handling
Creating meals together offers the perfect opportunity for spending quality time with your loved ones. You can "slice and dice" while sharing stories and winding down for the day, using this important time to communicate and understand each other better. With minimal fuss or pre-planning, everyone from dad or mom to smaller kids and teens can join in and "serve up" some family-centered fun while preparing and serving meals safely. Families can learn together and practice what it takes to prepare food safely, eat it wisely, and safely keep leftovers. Children can learn, and parents will be reminded, to follow the four basic food safety tips: Clean-wash hands and surfaces often; Separate-don't cross contaminate; Chill-refrigerate promptly; and Cook-cook to proper temperatures."
Fit Families Dine Together
Children look to those around them as role models, especially their family members. If they grow up in an active family that eats healthy; they are more likely to be active themselves. Daily activity is important for a healthy family, and it doesn't have to be hard.
These are just a few ideas to make family meals a time when parents and children can spend a small portion of their day together. This can be a special time, when all the worries of work and school can be set aside, and families can get closer in touch. It offers a time when children and parents can learn to share their thoughts, feelings, goals, values, and expectations. Family mealtime can be a time to get close as a family, so children and parents can help themselves to a happier and healthier life together.
As you make family dining part of your normal routine as often as possible, please remember to also observe the national Family Day - a Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children, and commend yourselves for making family meals a year-round custom. Family Day, an annual recognition of the importance of family mealtimes, occurs the fourth Monday of September.
For more information about Family Day visit: www.casafamilyday.org