Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family Mealtime

            From the desk of  Brittany Jimenez, RN
Brittany Jimenez, RN
Being a working Mom myself, I often struggle with keeping the fridge stocked and making healthy meals for my family. Luckily, websites like Pinterest and Facebook are loaded with quick and nutritious meal ideas. Now to just get everyone to the table for dinner! Sitting down as a family and eating with one another is just as important as the quality of the food that is served. So what exactly are some of the benefits of family mealtimes?

  • Family mealtime offers a platform for children to develop social skills and table manners, become good conversationalists and can help to build a stronger vocabulary. Family mealtime creates links between the different generations and allows children to ask questions about their family’s history and hear family stories.

  • Sitting down with one another promotes health benefits for the entire family. Children who eat with their family are less likely to be overweight or have eating disorders. Children and teens that eat with their families have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is the measurement of how much fat is in the body compared to an individual’s height and weight.

  • Older children and teenagers who participate in family meals often have a higher GPA and higher self-esteem. Parents can better monitor a child’s mood and behaviors, and are more apt to pick up on any signs of depression or trouble in their child. Lower risks of substance abuse and teen pregnancy are seen in the children of families who dine together.

  • Serving meals “family style” helps to encourage children to try and discover new foods they may like. Seeing the various different foods placed on the table and watching the adults eat the varied dishes encourages the child to reach out and sample new foods from the dinner table.
Making family mealtime does not have to overwhelming. Try making simpler meals to encourage everyone to help Mom and Dad get the meal to the table. Have a taco bar or potato bar. This is fast and easy because only one main item needs to be cooked (ground beef or turkey or baked potatoes). All the other ingredients just need to be chopped and served - cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes, tortillas and so on.

Let your children invite friends over once a week for an ice cream night, complete with hot fudge and whip cream. This is a great idea for teens- there is no pressure for a long dinner and it sets up a great opportunity to get to know their friends in a relaxed setting.

Our children grow up so quickly. It’s important to keep the family connection and mealtime is the perfect solution. Sitting down a few nights a week for dinner or sharing breakfast in the morning is a great way to nourish the body, mind and heart of a family.

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