Family Meals Matter

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February 26, 2014 by thehealthyheartcenter

This day in age we live busy busy lives. It may seem impossible to find the time to have family dinners anymore with the kids sports practice and your work day. Cooking does take time and having the family altogether in one place can be a task in itself. However, research has found there are incredible benefits from having family meals together. Understanding this can help you prioritize your time to make sure to fit as much of these treasured moments in as possible. In a study published in the journal of the american academy of pediatrics found a strong relationship between family meals and healthy eating.

“Children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healtheir dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than 3 family meals together. In addition, they are less likely to engage in disordered eating.” (Hammons and Fiese)

Additionally, children who have family meals frequently also have non-nutritional benefits such as being less stressed at home, better communication between child and parent and they are less likely to be influenced by drugs and cigarettes. 

So how are you going to try to integrate more family meals into your routine? Here are some helpful tips.

– Plan Ahead
Try to plan which recipes you are going to make that week and when you go to the grocery store you know everything you need to make things flow easily at home when it’s ready to cook. The internet is a great resource for recipes catering to what you want. You can have a selection of options and then your children can choose one to help have them more involved. The more choices the children feel they are making the more enjoyable the meal will be for them. You can make a weekly routine of taco tuesdays or homemade pizzas on fridays  to make the experience more consistent and enjoyable. This gives everyone something to look forward too and then you don’t have to think about what you will have to make for dinner that night.

– Keep Kitchen Stocked
Try to buy more than you need for the week when it comes to items that you constantly use and do not expire quickly. These items could be ones such as rice, pasta, cereal, beans, frozen fruits and vegetables, and spices. Also buy some food that you can have for quick options on nights with less time. Snacks like these could be peanutbutter and banana sandwiches, nuts, etc.

– Prepare Extra
Leftovers are great when you don’t have a lot of time. Try making more food than you will need and packaging up portions before serving them. This way you will have a quick and easy but healthy meal for latter. If you want it for next week or later just put it into the freezer until you’re ready. Sometimes all you need to do is prepare more of an ingredient that you use often. Chop up a little bit more veggies than you need so you can quickly add them to another recipe later.

– Involve the Whole Family
Cooking can be quite the task. Try involving the whole family to make it quicker, easier, and a bonding experience all at the same time. This will help your children want to eat something because they helped make it and it will also enhance their skills. 

Check out http://www.eatright.org/kids/ for more great tips. You can use this as a helpful, easy-to-use resource when planning your family meals. It has tips for shopping, cooking and has healthy recipes you may want to try. There are videos and informative articles posted often. 

 

Soucres: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6750, http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/family-dinners-are-important, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3387875/

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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