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Let Thanksgiving Inspire More Family Meals

Sharing a meal can promote a healthful diet and a chance to connect and build relationships.
Let Thanksgiving Inspire More Family Meals

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During Thanksgiving, many families gather friends and relatives to enjoy time together, usually with a roasted turkey as the centerpiece. As we talk and pass bowls of family-favorite salads and side dishes, we make many memories.

However, during the routine days, family mealtimes may get pushed aside because of busy work schedules and after-school activities for children. Let Thanksgiving be the inspiration to eat together more often, whether with family or friends.

Enjoy big benefits of family meals

Sharing meals helps a family create healthy, happy kids. According to researchers, eating together more often has many benefits among children:

  • Lowers sweetened beverage consumption
  • Improves grades in school
  • Improves food choices, such as more fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy
  • Helps with weight management
  • Allows children to practice communication skills
  • Decreases the risk of mental health issues, such as depression
  • Decreases risky behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol use when the children become teenagers

Aim for at least three to four shared meals per week.

Remember that family meals do not have to be a fancy Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, a family meal with at least some members of the family eating together can take place almost anywhere, from a restaurant to a table at a sporting event.

  • Be sure to turn off the TV, cellphones and other electronic devices
  • Make family mealtimes a priority. List them on your calendar with other important dates.
  • Make mealtimes positive, fun experiences. Share stories, tell about the funniest thing that happened to you that day, try new foods and laugh out loud.

Singles, couples also benefit from shared meals.

Maybe you live alone or your children are grown. Eating together is a source of enjoyment, regardless of your household size. 

Sharing a meal can promote a healthful diet and a chance to connect and build relationships. Try a new recipe and invite friends over for dinner, or have a weekly potluck meal.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise November 2016 newsletter (PDF)

Filed under: food and family
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