National Eat Better, Eat Together Month
Research shows that children who eat with their families are healthier in every way. They are less likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol and more likely to make better food choices to keep them healthier now and into adulthood. They build better eating habits, led by example.
October Celebrates Family Mealtime
Why is family mealtime so important? It helps children eat healthier so that they have a lower risk of chronic diseases as adults. Studies from Stanford Children’s Health states that “When a family sits down together, it helps them handle the stresses of daily life and the hassles of day-to-day existence.”
Family mealtime encourages communication, builds relationships and bonds. It provides a chance to explore different kinds of foods and develop good eating habits. You can take this time to teach family members to cook. People tend to experiment with eating new types of food when they cook the food themselves. You are a role model, so this an excellent time to teach a picky eater to try new things. As a role model, when they see you eat new things, they will want to eat new things. Make sure to have some of their favorites, too. You want this to be an opportunity rather than a fight.
Big and Fancy or Small and Meaningful?
So, you might say that you don’t have time to make big fancy meals or that the family eats on different schedules. Start small, pick once a week when you can get everyone together. Schedule it so that everyone knows ahead of time and can plan for the event. Plan the meal or plan for help to prepare the meal. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy as long as you are eating together. The meal doesn’t even have to be dinner. It can be any meal of the day when everyone can get together.
Remember, This is a Time for Everyone, so Disconnected.
There should be no phones, TV, or electronics. Focus on enjoying each other’s company. Make this a positive experience. Discuss your day, upcoming events, or something new you are trying or wanting to try. Save any negative or disciplinary conversations for another time. Family time can incorporate family traditions and values. Talk about things you did as a child with your parents, talk about how times were different, but how some things can and should remain the same as family mealtime.