The Benefits of Eating Together as a Family
With any family, whether big or small, it can be a challenge to plan and enjoy a family meal together. Work commitments, sporting events, and school schedules typically keep most families from enjoying this valuable family time together. However, research shows that children who have meals with their families are more likely to be healthy and do well in school, so it’s worth making the time in our busy schedules.
As parents become more stressed juggling multiple tasks, it’s common for unhealthy habits to start sneaking into families’ lives. Struggling to fit everything into our busy schedules often leaves little to no time to focus on ensuring our children are getting nutritious meals that are so important for them! Starting healthy habits is a step in the right direction, but the key is maintaining these habits for long-term success.
With the holidays around the corner, we wanted to offer some tips on why eating together as a family can be beneficial.
1. Mealtime brings families together
Families that eat together tend to be closer. You can’t beat that benefit. Mealtime is a great time to put away technology and focus on conversations. Having a set time to focus on being together and sharing updates on everyone’s lives is a great way to encourage children to open up and bond as a family.
2. Eating better
Did you know you tend to eat more fruits, vegetables, and nutritious foods when you eat with others? You also tend to eat less processed foods because more planning is involved when dining with family.
3. Can result in better grades
Studies show that children who eat with their families tend to achieve higher scores on tests. Adding more family mealtimes is a no-brainer!
4. Better self-esteem & fewer depression issues
A study showed that having frequent family meals with a positive atmosphere could create fewer depressive symptoms in children. A study from New Zealand showed that an increase in family mealtimes led to more positive moods in young adolescents.
5. New vocabulary
For young children, mealtime conversations can boost vocabulary even more than reading stories to them! When children have a more extensive vocabulary, they often start reading at a younger age and read better than their peers.
Now we know WHY to make time for a family meal together, but what’s missing is the HOW.
Here are some ways to make family meals work for you:
1. Plan meals ahead
Preparing and planning for family mealtimes is key to your success. Choose your recipe and do your shopping in advance. You can even involve everyone in the planning, shopping, and preparing of the meal, making it more fun for everyone! Avoid running to the grocery store last minute or looking for a new recipe half an hour before you need to be out the door.
2. Schedule time to eat together
If hockey practice, work, and gymnastics won’t allow you to have a family dinner together, try breakfast instead. Once you decide when to have your family meal, schedule it on the calendar as you would other family events.
3. Make small changes
Suppose you don’t usually eat any meals together as a family. Schedule one meal per week that you can attend and stick to it. As you can, add a second weekly family meal to your plan.
4. Make mealtime fun
One way to make mealtime more enjoyable is to have themed dinners. Try Taco Tuesday’s or Fajita Friday’s. When making Asian cuisine, try using chopsticks! You could even bring a table cloth to the backyard and have a family picnic. Simple family traditions can make a difference and get children excited about family meals.
At Kids & Company, we practice family-style dining. The goal of family-style dining is for children to develop self-help skills and social skills, empower them to make their own food choices, and create pride and ownership of their food!
We hope you all can enjoy mealtime together as a family this holiday season. We have provided one of our recipes below to try over the holidays. Enjoy!
For your next family meal, try our Turkey Tourtiere Pie
What you need:
- 4 lbs Peeled and Chopped Potato
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Tbsp Veggie Oil
- ¼ Cup Diced Onion
- 2 lbs Ground Turkey
- 2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- ¼ Cup Diced Carrot
- ¼ Cup Diced Celery
- ¼ Cup Corn
- ¼ Cup Pea
- 1 tsp Allspice
- 1 tsp Ground Cloves
What to do:
1. Make sure to wash your hands before you begin.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Cover potatoes with water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add butter and milk while mashing. Set aside.
4. Heat oil in pan; add onions and garlic and turkey, cook until well browned. Set aside. Drain liquid and add all other ingredients. Mix gently.
5. Spread turkey mixture on the bottom of a baking dish. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on top.
6. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.