According to studies such as The Family Dinner Project, families that eat dinner together report children with lower obesity levels. When kids are part of the dinner preparation process, they learn to make more nutritious meal choices at home. Home cooked meals are best because there is better portion control, lower fats in the diet, and undesirable preservatives. Kids that take the time to eat dinner with family typically consume more fruits and vegetables. The best thing to do is make sure that your family gets together to eat meals at least 5 to 6 times a week. Regular family dinner time increases the chances that your children will make better food choices. When dinner time sets the example of nutritious food options, children who participate eat less fried foods and consume less soft drinks.
Dr. Anne K. Fishel, co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, has noted that 15 years of research has shown that sharing a family meal is beneficial to the health of all family members. Families that eat together for dinner enjoy lower rates of substance abuse and depression. Children of families that eat dinner together regularly, report higher levels of self-esteem and higher achievement in school.
When you make time for dinner, make time for family by turning off all electronic devices. Turn off your cell phone and get off of social media. Do not watch television while eating dinner. Make use of family dinner time to focus on eating and on each other. Enjoy having conversations to explore how your kids are doing, and focus on building healthy conversation and connection to one another. Too often, we find ourselves exhausted and pressed for time, busily going about our lives without stopping to enjoy family. Dinner time can be an activity that parents and children both look forward to at the end of the day.
Making meals together to share and enjoy as a family enables us to pass on food traditions. Perhaps time constraints have forced families to feel their only food option is microwaveable or pre-boxed dinners. When you share in preparing and cooking a meal, you can slow down and learn about the generational history of ingredients and dishes served and eaten in one’s family. The skill of learning how to prepare certain dishes brings on a magic of its own, a sense of pride, and higher self-esteem for successful results that everyone gets to eat.