Friday, March 5, 2010

What happens when a family eats together?

Do you ever wish your family could slow down long enough to share a family meal together? In this fast-paced world of family activities it can be a challenge to find time to share a meal. Research tells us that taking time for family meals has many rewards. Nutrition and family life professionals agree, families that eat together four or more times a week tend to benefit from this practice. Improved nutrition has been shown to be one major benefit of eating together.

Developing family traditions and rituals is an important part of building a healthy family. Many families use mealtimes as a way to develop these family traditions. These traditions do not have to involve a major holiday. Your family can develop traditions around everyday activities. Pizza or some other favorite food on the same day of the week can be a tradition. Giving thanks for the meal in your family’s own special way can become a ritual. Remember, traditions and rituals can be simple and still have strong meaning to family members.

Mealtime is also a good oportunity for parents to model good habits. Children learn a great deal from their parents about social manners, how to communicate and healthy eating habits. Family mealtime can be an opportunity for parents to model appropriate table manners, healthy food choices and good listening skills. Children get the opportunity to practice these skills, which will be important throughout their lives.

Making time for shared family meals can take a great deal of effort. In addition to arranging a time and place when everyone can gather at the table, each family member must be dedicated to making the most of the time together. When enjoying a family meal, turn off the radio, television, phone and other distractions.

It may be too much of a challenge to try to eat every meal together at the beginning. Start slow and learn from the first meals together. Families should begin with one meal together for a few weeks. Once you find a time that works, go from there. Also try to share positive things that have happened during the day. Families can also have a night where there is an assigned table topic.

What happens when a family eats together? They experience better communication, develop stronger family traditions, and they have an opportunity to improve table manners and social skills. If you think your family is too busy to eat together, think again. There are too many benefits not to.

1 comment:

Jon said...

So many think that it's too difficult to make the time for family dinner because of so many different schedules and activities, but the benefits are worth it. And where theres a will, theres a way.