April is slipping away and I hope this past weekend allowed you time to spend with family and friends celebrating your Easter traditions. I hate to admit, but I’m not much of a social media person. Once in a while I spend a few minutes scanning the posts, but I often fail to check on a regular basis. This morning however, was a video about some research in Australia, asking families who they would like to have dinner with. They started with the parents and most of them indicated famous celebrities, musicians, politicians would be the persons of choice to spend dinner with. Then they brought the children in from each family unit and allowed the parents to view their responses. All the children that were videoed said all they wanted was to have dinner with their family. It was a definite moment in the life of a family. Time spent together around the table, talking about the day and the events of life was very important to their children. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that we sometimes overlook, because we don’t understand or appreciate the current or future value. Following are some additional reasons to make family meals a priority from additional research.
Kids might learn to like more foods, especially vegetables. They eat more fruits and vegetables with less soda and fried foods. When eating these foods, children gain the essential nutrients like calcium, iron and fiber. These are building blocks for a lifelong habit of a healthier diet.
It’s a great way to try new foods. When children are young we should try to introduce at least one new food a week to expand the variety in their diet. Being exposed to new foods over and over is the key to expanding foods rather than forcing through demands. Try foods in different ways (cooked, raw, cold, hot, grilled, etc). Just because they don’t like it one way, doesn’t mean they won’t like it another.
When eating as a family we have a little more control over the portion size than when eating out. The average restaurant meal may contain 60% more calories than a homemade meal. We can include more fruits and vegetables on the plate too.
The Search Institute indicates with their asset development that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, or develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them. Think about the conversations around the dinner table and focus on the good things going on, count your blessings and your family meal may act as an intervention.
When families eat together the conversations help to build a child’s vocabulary. When they expand on the language many times they perform better in school. It can also serve as a stress reliever, something everyone looks forward to at the end of the day.
In 2015, the average family spent $4,015 on food prepared at home and $3,008 on food away from home, an increase of more than 8 percent from previous years. Usually we can prepare a meal for about half or less of what it costs to eat out. Making choices of where to spend our money is another life lesson to consider.
So this week, turn off the TV, radio, phones and computer and enjoy positive conversation while preparing and eating a meal. Not only will the children enjoy the nutritional benefits, but the developmental benefits as well. Happy Spring!