There is ample evidence that eating dinner as a family has significant benefits. Although family dinner should be a yearly pursuit, September has been designated as family mealtime month. It's true each family experiences it's own challenges, from homework deadlines, extracurricular evening events and work schedules; each family has it's own time constraints and conflicts. Committing to family dinner may look different from family to family, but the effort is what counts and will make a difference in your families' growth and relationships.
Studies show children who eat regular family dinners consume more fruits and vegetables and have an increased vitamin intake verses children who do not participate in regular family dinners. With the nutritional evidence clear, there is also something to be said about the family atmosphere and experience of this consistent family experience. Kids who have this family involvement show increased vocabulary, higher achievements in school and a decrease in participating in underaged drinking.
It is no secret we live in a fast paced, highly demanding civilization. In most industrialized countries families don't work, farm or play together consistently. Family dinner is the most reliable way for families to connect and interact. These interactions will bond and unit families in ways social media cannot. They are crucial for healthy emotional and developmental growth.
Committing to family mealtime does not have to be complicated. Consider these simple tips to ease your efforts in family mealtime commitment.
Keep It Simple- Dinner can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose to make it. Breaking it down, simplifies the stress and hassle of dinner creation. Aim for a protein, grain and vegetable/fruit side. Complete the ensemble with a glass of milk and you have yourself a nutritious Myplate approved meal.
Plan Ahead- Half of the headache of dinner time is knowing what to make. Designate a few minutes over the weekend to meal plan your upcoming week. Plan realistic options that will work with that evenings time constraints.
Bake Once Eat Twice- Leftovers can be a great option for a busy over-scheduled night. If the term "leftovers" raises a fuss in your home, transform your previous meal into another days creation. If chicken is on the menu for Tuesday night, cook twice the amount needed and put into the fridge for another dinners protein component. Season and pair with another side dish for a quick last min dinner fix. This tip is sure to disguise your meal repetition to even your pickiest, most observant eater.
Turn It Off- In a world full of social media and electronic distractions, make dinnertime a place to connect and interact. Turn off the television, put down the phones and experience the importance of real social interaction.
Focus on Conversation- Of course the real power of dinners lies in the interpersonal quality. Make dinnertime a place of comfort and connection. Avoid the dinner table as a place of fighting and disciplining, rather a place to converse and interact to build and strengthen family bonds and relationships.
Sharing a pot of stew won't magically transform a family relationship, but it very well may be the one time of day for child and parent to interact and share a positive experience. Dinnertime interaction can make a significant impact on your families health and success.
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