Did you know that 60 years ago, the average dinnertime was 90 minutes and today it is less than 12 minutes? When you have school, after-school activities, homework, and oftentimes both parents working it can be hard to find the time to make sit-down family dinners a reality.
Research has highlighted the many advantages of having meals together for our kids. Benefits for children and teens who share family dinners 3 or more times per week include:
Are less likely to be overweight
Are more likely to eat healthy foods
Perform better academically
Are less likely to engage in risky behaviors
Have better relationships with their parents
Have fewer emotional and behavioral problems
Having sit-down family dinners benefits parents as well as kids. Research shows that eating without distractions leads to a healthier overall diet and oftentimes a reduction in overall calories consumed. Eating in front of the computer or in front of the television increases mindless eating, which is when we eat in the absence of hunger. Slowing down your eating without distractions can help you control your intake and your weight.
While this research is motivating, it can still feel overwhelming to actually make it happen. Here are some tips to make it easier:
1. Plan ahead! Make a list, organize what you can before the meal, and post up a schedule of what you’ll eat for the week.
2. Keep it simple. Include salads or sides of veggies and fruits instead of time consuming sides. You’ll get the benefit of easy prep but also a more colorful, nutrient-packed plate.
3. Get everyone involved. Let your kids help plan, prepare, and clean up. Another bonus to this: they will be more likely to eat if they were involved in the process!
4. Use the crock pot or instant pot. Or better yet, try out a freezer meals class or search for some freezer meals online, they save so much time and stress! You can prepare the meals when you have the time and save a lot of time when you don’t.
5. Make it fun! Enjoy each other’s company Keep the TV and phones off so you can really nurture that family connection.
We all want the best for our kids, so it’s time to make family meals a priority. We challenge you to sit down as a family for 3 or more meals per week. It doesn’t have to be dinner -- breakfast and lunch count too. Take a break from your busy day and enjoy the company around you. And remember… keep it simple!
Interested in eating healthy? Hungry for more?