Eat Better, Eat Together Month
Family time is important in creating strong relationships between parents and children, as well as promote healthy eating habits. While the coronavirus pandemic has caused a slowdown in some aspects, it’s still easy to fall victim to the hustle of life, whether it’s because of work, school, or extracurricular activities. However, now is the time to bring everyone together in recognition of National Eat Better, Eat Together Month this October.
The Positive Impact of the Daily Family Meal
The National Eat Better, Eat Together Month awareness campaign is centered on encouraging families to make a goal of eating at least one meal a day together as a family. While it seems like a small part of the day, it can oftentimes have the biggest impact. Regular communication with one another can help everyone better handle daily stress, and eating together tends to promote more healthy eating habits. According to Stanford Children’s Health, here are more reasons to routinely have a family meal:
- Teach your children by example. Kids learn a lot by simply observing their parents and the family around them. During family mealtime, dividing necessary tasks teaches children the responsibilities of food preparation, serving, and washing dishes. They also learn what is considered inappropriate conversation for the dinner table, such as any topics that may be embarrassing for another family member.
- It helps build self-esteem. Parents can help build children up simply by listening and providing them with their full attention. When children are listened to, they feel valued, respected, and like their feelings, interests, and concerns are important to their parent.
- Improves family dynamics. When families have disjointed mealtimes, it can lead to one or more family members feeling isolated or distant. The ability to sit down together and enjoy a meal at the same time provides everyone with a feeling of importance within the family unit.
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
Not only is the family meal great for overall mental health and creating a supportive environment, but it also helps promote healthier eating habits. A study performed in JAMA Network Open found that having more frequent family meals, particularly dinner, was associated with a better diet overall, especially with teens. Teens were more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and sugary drinks when eating with the family.
The Journal of Pediatrics also found that participating in frequent family meals during adolescence led to lower rates of obesity or problems with weight 10 years later. Based on this study, it was concluded that at minimum, families should gather together for one or two meals per week to help protect children from struggles with weight later in life.
Make Family Meals Simple
The family meal doesn’t need to be a weekly replay of Thanksgiving in order to be effective. The act of sitting around the table together is what truly matters. Be proactive in planning your meals ahead of time, even doing certain meal preparations a few days in advance, such as chopping vegetables, making the cooking portion even faster. You can even take some time to cook meals in advance that you can store in the freezer or fridge for a quick, easy option. Make sure the meal is not left to one person to make – the entire family should be involved, whether it’s helping to cook, set the table, or help clean up. Don’t be afraid to get creative with dinner, such as planning a no-bake night where you can eat from a selection of fresh produce, peanut butter, cheeses, and more.
At Midwest Express Clinic, we understand the importance of family. Let us help you keep yours healthy – visit one of our convenient area locations today.