Importance of Eating Together
It can be a challenge to get the family members together for a meal. How times have changed! Today’s fast-paced lifestyle affects one of the most important family values we hold in America, and eating together as a family goes to the wayside. Why is it so important to eat together as a family? According to The Family Dinner Project®, researchers have been looking into the benefits of eating together as a family for over 15 years and have confirmed that sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. In fact, regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and better self-esteem - not to mention lower rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents.
With all the reasons why families should eat together, still many American families are challenged with meeting this goal. Time is an issue as well as budget. Keep these simple strategies in mind to help make family meals together a success.
1. Put your family first – Look at schedules and try to plan meals together as a family for the week. Remember that meals don’t necessarily have to be the dinner meal. If breakfast is the best time to eat together as a family that is perfectly fine.
2. Make it simple – Meals do not need to be difficult to prepare. Planning ahead is key! Take inventory of your pantry and fridge and see what you already have on hand. Check your local grocery store ads to see if there are additional food items you can purchase on sale to complement the items you already have on hand to complete your family meals. This will help save you time and money. Write your meal plan in your calendar or on a chalkboard to display for the family so everyone knows what is being served throughout the week.
3. Make it fun – Mealtime together as a family can be stressful - but if you keep in mind eating together as a family can be fun and a way for the family to reconnect, the stress will melt away and your family will learn to enjoy mealtime together. Here are a few tips for making mealtime a little more enjoyable for the entire family:
· Come up with a menu theme for the week such as “Mexican Week” or “Grilling Week.”
· Explore a mystery food of the week and incorporate that food into several dinner dishes.
Adapted from the Hy-Vee e-newsletter