It’s National Family Meals Month and guest author, Jordan Hinton, senior dietetic student at the University of Kentucky, provides insights on why family mealtime is important:
Eating with the people we care about brings us closer. Not only does sitting around a table ignite conversation and connections with others, but it also teaches healthy eating habits. Families who sit down to just three meals a week are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and get enough essential nutrients like vitamins B6, B12 and calcium.1
Beyond sharing nutrient rich foods at meals, eating as a family allows parents to model healthy and balanced approaches to eating, something children are surprisingly perceptive of. When children see the people they care about eating a certain food, they’re more likely to add it to their plate.2 So, if you wish your child would quit picking around her vegetables, try modeling healthy habits by enjoying some with your next meal.
By setting aside a time to eat together, you’re also creating a space to put down phones, turn off the TV and check in with each other. The extra time spent sharing thoughts can aid in stress relief after a long day and help you stay in touch with loved ones, despite a busy schedule.
Eating together doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need a fancy meal with expensive ingredients to reap the health and social benefits. Check out Budget Bytes for one-pot recipes to kick start family meals. (The white chicken chili recipe is one of my personal favorites.)
1. Story, M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). “A Perspective on Family Meals: Do They Matter?” Nutrition Today, 40(6), pp 261-266.
2. Mura Paroche, M., Caton, S. J., Vereijken, C. M., Weenen, H., & Houston-Price, C. (2017). “How infants and young children learn about food: A systematic review.” Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1046.