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Family meals promote family togetherness. Family meals provide a time to share what is going on in each other’s lives and enjoy a nutritious meal. Families who eat together are more likely to have more balanced meals. Preparing the meal is an important part of mealtime. Have children help in every aspect of the preparation, from choosing the menu to setting the table to making the meal. Including children in the preparation can lead to lifelong knowledge and memories.
Enjoying more family meals takes a little planning, but it’s worth the effort. Children who eat with their families do better in school, are less likely to take part in risky behavior (such as smoking and drinking alcohol) and are less likely to have symptoms of depression. Children who eat more family meals have an overall healthier diet, compared with children who eat fewer family meals. They eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods, and they drink fewer soft drinks. Enjoy more family meals by taking some time to plan your menus and your shopping trips. Involve your family in menu planning, shopping, preparation and cleanup. Children can learn valuable life skills, such as cooking and communication skills, when helping in the kitchen. They learn to appreciate a variety of foods as they help plan and shop for meals.
Providing nutritious snacks doesn’t have to be expensive but you may need to do some planning to make them readily available for your child. Getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables can be difficult. Make snack time fun. For example, provide a variety of cut-up fruits and vegetables and let your kids create their own kabobs. You also may want to try serving vegetables with low-fat dip to make them more appealing.
Enjoying more family meals adds up to better nutrition, stronger family bonds and children who are less likely to participate in risky behavior. Be flexible with meal schedules and locations of your family meals. If evenings are too hectic, would a regular family breakfast work for you?
Each person has a daily calorie budget. Calories are units of energy. You spend calories to maintain body functions and provide energy for physical activity. If you take in more calories than you burn, you may “bank” the extra as body fat.