“Dinner is where you put together the puzzle of the world and sometimes the puzzle of yourself. In the midst of all the shuttling and driving and keeping crazy schedules, isn’t it ironic that the real key to success is as close as the kitchen table.”
– Lori Borgman, author, All Stressed Up and No Place to Go
There are many reasons why family mealtime is so important. Family mealtime:
- Helps to create unity and a sense of identity within a family as well as a feeling of safety and security. It’s also a great time to create family memories.
- Helps with behavior issues. More family mealtimes mean teens are less likely to become depressed, use illegal drugs, abuse alcohol, smoke cigarettes, develop eating disorders, and get pregnant.
- Plays an important role in school success. It’s a time for children to learn and practice important language skills and learn new vocabulary. Children who participate in a regular family mealtime tend to do well in school and score high on achievement tests as well as report getting A’s and B’s.
- Helps with developing smart eating habits. Children and teens who practice good nutrition at home around the dinner table are more likely to make those same nutritious choices outside of the home.
- Is important when it comes to helping children and teens maintain a healthy weight.
To create a successful family mealtime serve nutrient-rich foods, provide a relaxed atmosphere, and eliminate distractions like TV and cell phones. Conversation should be positive and child-focused. At our house we take turns having each family member tell something they learned that day. With small children in our family there is always a lot of learning going on! I have found that it’s a great way to observe what things are important to them. It’s also provides an opportunity to expand on what each child is learning to teach them even more! Remember that a successful family mealtime encompasses more than just serving nutritions food. It’s just as important to use it as a time to connect and share within a family.
To prepare for a successful family mealtime, it’s important to start by planning your menus. Check out Spend Smart Eat Smart by Iowa State University Extension for some great tips on menu planning and shopping.
Check our Facebook page each Tuesday this month for Quick Tip Tuesday and each Wednesday for What’s for Dinner Wednesday. I’ll be sharing more tips and easy recipes for a successful family mealtime.