Studies show that families who sit down to regular meals together tend to eat better. Most of us these days are pulled in so many different directions with work, family and extra activities that it doesn’t leave much time to get into the kitchen to cook or eat together. Both parents often work outside of the home and trying to coordinate the different schedules within a family can be very hard.
Healthy families, don’t just happen, they take time, love and effort. Regular family dinners have been positively linked to higher academic performance. By sitting around a table with no technology (and that includes no phones or ipads!) means that there should be no interruption, which is rare on a busy day. Children find the time and place to talk with their parents and to be heard by them every day. They can count on it. This is the ideal time to listen to your kids, who may have something important to say.
If I ask my son Ben how school was all I will get is a ‘good’ but when we sit at the table together I ask him specific questions about his day and once he starts talking, there’s no stopping him, often I have to remind him to eat!
The dinner table is where a family culture is nurtured—around the table night after night for both serious & casual conversation. This time is crucial. We must come together for a time every day to talk to each other, to be with each other, to give the priority of a quantity of quality time to family.
Here are some tips to help you get back to the table with your family”
- You don’t need to be a gourmet cook – Simple foods served with love and laughter will outshine gourmet goodies almost any time. Slow cookers, make ahead meals, and some careful planning make life easier. I make most of my meals ahead of time at the weekend, I just don’t have the time during the week. If I don’t do this mealtimes can be very stressful and something less healthy!
- It Doesn’t Have to Be Hot to Be Healthy – Tuna sandwiches, a salad and some fruit salad can be just as healthy for your family as something you slaved over at the stove.
- Focus on Food Choices Vs. Forcing Food – allow children to eat until they’re full without forcing ‘one more bite’ or a clean plate.
- Start Slow, Learn as You Go – Don’t try to go from no meals to nightly meals. Start with one meal together weekly. Find what works for your family and go from there.
- Take Turns Talking With a “Talking Stick” – If everyone in your family talks at once, borrow the “talking stick” idea. Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk. You might have a “talking cup” or other special item that gets passed around.
- Don’t Answer The Phone During Mealtime – How often are your meals interrupted by the phone? Be present with your children and be in that moment.
- Turn Off The TV – Encourage your kids to be present in their own lives too. Studies show that eating in front of the tv, computer or other device leads to mindless eating and weight gain.
- Get Children Involved in Making Meals – Children, especially younger children, tend to tune in more to meals they help prepare.
- Cook it Quick But Eat it Slow – Check out the many cookbooks and Internet resources that give tips for putting together healthy meals in a hurry, but be sure to allow enough time to eat slowing, savour the meal, and enjoy the company of family.
If you don’t have the time to plan your meals, let me do the hard work for you. I will design meal plans specifically for you and your family leaving you with more time to spend with each other. If you are interested, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.