Why are family meals so important?
We tend to focus a lot on what we eat but have you ever given much thought to how you eat? Eating together as a family has huge benefits when it comes to our health. In this month’s blog our resident dietitian delves into why family meals are a small investment that can have a huge pay off for the entire family.
What do we mean by family meals?
A family meal generally means sharing a meal (whether it is prepared at home or not) with most members of the household present.
What are the benefits of family meals?
- They give parents the opportunity to role model healthy behaviours
- They are associated with healthier dietary and eating patterns among kids and adolescents
- They increase the likelihood of children and adolescents being in a normal weight range
- Children tend to have higher intakes of fruits and vegetables
- Children and teens are less likely to skip breakfast
- Children and teens have lower intakes of fat, fried foods and soft drinks
- They reduce the risk of disordered eating in kids and teens
- They reduce fussy eating
- They increase food enjoyment
- Teens who have regular meals with a parent tend to be better adjusted emotionally and socially and have better grades at school as well as lower rates of alcohol use, drug use and suicide risk
How to make family meals more simple
- Plan meals ahead: Ask each family member to pick a meal or recipe and use themes to plan for the week e.g. mexican on mondays, pasta on tuesdays, chinese on wednesdays
- Cook once, eat twice: Cook large batches of meals so you’re only cooking every second night and freeze portions for busy nights. Pasta dishes, curries, tray bakes and risotto freeze well
- Keep it simple: Build up a small collection of easy go-to recipes with minimal ingredients and cycle through them to help you get in and out of the kitchens fast as possible
- Swap takeaway with an Activate Foods family meal:You’ll save yourself money and unnecessary calories, salt and fat
- Make family meals a habit: Try your best to make sure all family members are there for dinner every night at a particular time e.g. 6:30pm.
- Get the family involved: get the kids to set the table, cut up vegetables or pack the dishwasher.Get your teens to help shopping for groceries
- Take away distractions: Having conversations as a family is important. Talk about your day in general and turn off the TV, phones and anything else that is loud or distracting. Keep the vibe stress-free and avoid battling with the kids if they aren't eating something or are going through a fussy eating phase.
Need help planning family meals? Book in with one of our dietitians at Eatense today.