September is Family Meal Month and you may be rolling your eyes thinking, “I don’t have time for that.” Well here are some benefits to family dinner that just might change your mind.
· Adolescents who ate family meals five to seven times a week were twice aslikely to get A’sin school as those who ate dinner with their families fewer than two times a week.
· Regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scoresthan time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.
· Young adults who ate regular family meals as teensare less likely to be obese and more likely to eat healthily once they live on their own.
· For young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to.
· Add to that lower rates of disordered eating, improved health and nutrition, higher self-esteem and less depression, and better relationships with parents and you no longer have any reason not to make family dinner a priority.
Family dinner doesn’t have to be food-network-worthy. It doesn’t have to be fancy or gourmet, just start by making it happen. Even if it means sitting down at the table to eat the PB&Js together – that is a great start.
September is not only family dinner month, but also national cholesterol education month. So consider a recipe that fits both bills by swapping some of your saturated fats with polyunsaturated oils. Plant oils like corn oil are full of cholesterol-blocking plant sterols and can play a role in making family dinner doable and healthful as well. Marinades are a great way to involve the kids in some simple dinner prep that keeps a flavorful meal simple and delicious.
Involving your kids in menu planning can help make family dinner less of a battle ground. And as age-appropriate, I strongly suggest involving them in the cooking/preparation process as well. We think a lot about academic and financial preparation for college and adult-life for our kids, but don’t overlook the most important life-skill – feeding themselves. One of the best ways to help your child overcome pickiness at mealtime is to get them cooking in the kitchen.
Will it take time? Yes. Will it take effort and some planning? Yes. Will it be perfect? No. But it will be one of the most important traditions you teach your children.