The benefits of eating together
MISSION, Kan., Aug. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- (Family Features) Juggling jobs, kids and the demands of a busy, modern life often comes at the expense of family mealtime at home. Even though life never seems to slow down, now is the perfect time to renew your commitment to creating and serving meals at home that nourish your kids' brains and help them flourish.
Not only is time together around the table an opportunity to catch up and reconnect, numerous studies provide evidence of the positive, lifelong benefits of family meals. Regular family meals are linked to the kinds of outcomes that ensure a bright future for children: higher grades and self-esteem, healthier eating habits and less risky behaviors.
For example, according to research published in the "Journal of Pediatrics," kids and teens who share meals with their families three or more times per week are significantly less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy foods and less likely to have eating disorders.
Other studies have shown that children who grow up sharing family meals are more likely to exhibit positive social behavior as adults, such as sharing, fairness and respect.
On the other hand, research also suggests that aside from missing out on the benefits, families that have fewer meals together can also experience adverse effects when it comes to certain risky behaviors. A study on the relationship between certain family characteristics and adolescent problem behaviors, published in the "Journal of Adolescent Health," found that teens who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or have used an illegal drug; 2.5 times more likely to have used tobacco and 1.5 times more likely to have used alcohol.
Learn more about the positive impact regular meals at home together can have for your kids' emotional, intellectual and physical well-being at nationalfamilymealsmonth.org.
Meal Planning Tips
Planning for family mealtime can be tough, but it doesn't have to be. Take the stress out of planning and preparing family meals with these tips and begin reaping the benefits of more time together around the dinner table.
Make Family Meals Count
Gathering the family for a daily meal offers numerous ways to make lasting impressions. Promoting one more family meal each week is an educational program created by the Food Marketing Institute Foundation and the nation's grocery stores.
Role-modeling. Spending time with adults where they can observe positive behaviors in action teaches kids valuable life skills such as using table manners and taking turns talking without interrupting.
Family values. In a busy home where various activities and demands create divides in time and attention, family meals let everyone come together to honor the family unit. Demonstrating value for family and making this together time a priority helps teach youngsters lessons about the importance of work-life balance that they will carry into adulthood.
Time to relax. Not only is mealtime a time to nourish bodies, it's a chance to force each member of the family to pause and put a temporary hold on the chaotic pace of life. Kids and grownups alike can benefit from a daily break to recharge not only physically, but mentally as well.
Fond memories. A family meal tradition has all the makings for fond childhood memories. An activity that plays an important role in the family's schedule is sure to create a lasting impression for kids when they look back on their formative years.
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SOURCE Family Features Editorial Syndicate