The Family Dinner Redux
Just in case you needed more reasons to have the whole family sit down to eat together, a recent review of studies in Pediatrics will give you three. Children whose families share mealtimes at least three times a week are more likely to be fit, maintain a normal weight and have healthy eating habits than kids whose families do not.
When you add these to the list of other positive impacts to having family meals – such as being less likely to experiment with cigarettes, drugs or alcohol; performing better in school; building stronger family relationships – there is compelling argument for making sure your family sits down together at least a few times a week. How can you make that happen with busy schedules and picky eaters? Here are a few simple strategies:
- Family meals can include breakfast, too. Start your day together, even if there is only time for a quick bowl of cereal.
- Get the whole gang involved. Plan meals together, bring children to the grocery store to help choose healthy foods they like and let them help you cook. Have older children plan and prepare entire meals themselves – you may help them find a new passion!
- Don't worry about offering a gourmet spread. When short on time, combine quick and easy options together for balanced meals. Pick up rotisserie chicken on the way home from work. Keep kitchen staples on hand at home like sandwich fixings, easy-to-prepare fruits and vegetables, frozen fish, whole grain pasta and canned beans for whipping up nutritious meals in minutes.
- Spend time on the weekend preparing meals ahead of time so you have something fast to put on the table during busy weeknights - and use your crock pot with abandon!