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The health benefits of eating a meal as a family

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In our very busy lives it can be difficult to find the time to sit down and enjoy a meal as a family, but if we do take the time to eat together it will promote big health benefits.

Research shows that you can improve your family’s health in the following ways just by have a meal together as a family.

Improved Diet

Research studies show that children who eat meals as family have an increased intake of fruits vegetables, grains and calcium rich foods(2). They also drank less soft drinks and less fried food. (2). The research also show that children who eat dinner with the family had a 15% reduction in being overweight (3).

Improved Mental health

Diet is not the only area that family meals benefit. Research also shows that eating a meal as family help decrease the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana among teenagers. Adolescents who ate meals with their family also have an improved grade point average and less depression (4).

How to start having family meals

  1. Choose a meal that best works for your family: It does not have to be dinner that your family sits down together for. If you are really busy in the evening, try eating breakfast together or try having brunch every Sunday. Anytime spent as a family helps.
  2. Take the time to talk: Sitting down for a meal is about more than just the food. Give everyone an opportunity to talk about their day, accomplishments and worries.
  3. Set the mood:Let everyone know that the family meal time is a safe time. Do not use this time to argue, punish or chastise. Turn off the T.V., Phones and anything else that may distract from the family.
  4. Get everyone involved: Give anyone a opportunity to participate. Whether it is helping choose the meal or setting the table buy eating everyone involved it help the family become invested in the meal.

Let s all take the opportunity to take time out to spend time as a family and have a great meal.

References

  1. Neumark-Sztainer D1, Hannan PJ, Story M, Croll J, Perry C. Family meal patterns: associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents.J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Mar; 103(3):317-22.
  2. Gillman M.W., Rifas-Shiman S.L., Frazier A.L., et al: Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents. Arch Fam Med 2000; 9: 235-240
  3. Taveras E.M., Rifas-Shiman S.L., Berkey C.S., et al: Family dinner and adolescent overweight. ObesRes 2005; 13: 900-906
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