GOAL: Eat Together as often as possible!
Review the following information together and then use some of the suggestions below to make the most of meal time . . . and Remember: Eat meals together as a family as often as possible!
If the whole family eats dinner together for one week (or a set number of days in a row) you celebrate with something your kids will really look forward to-- movie night at the theatre or at home, special dessert, etc. Decide as a family what the reward will be.
The family member(s) who eat dinner with the rest of the family the most during each week get to . . . choose dessert, choose the menu the next week, skip dish duty, stay up an extra 1/2 hour. This could even be different for each child if there are different privileges that the kids would respond to.
The key, of course, is to make it something that they will really look forward to.
This is the second of the two challenges I mentioned we would be challenging you to do on a regular and frequent basis. For this Adventure we recommend a minimum of 4 times per week (daily is better!), and it is about as simple as they come-- yet thousands of families miss this easy way to protect their loved ones.
Eat Meals Together!!
Every prevention program out there will list eating meals together as a family among the top prevention tools available to parents. I can't think of any other action that brings so many BENEFITS for so little EFFORT (not that cooking meals doesn't take effort! Please don't miss understand what I'm saying!)
WHY EAT TOGETHER?
Besides the obvious fact that family time is important for bonding, here are other research-backed benefits to eating together:
- Meals tend to be more balanced and nutritious, containing the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.
- People eat slower and talk more, which allows more time for digestion and helps prevent overeating because there is more time to recognize fullness.
- Kids who eat with their family are exposed to a wider variety of foods and become less picky.
Mental and emotional health:
- It’s much-needed time to catch up, reconnect, and find out what’s happening in your children’s lives. This builds closer bonds and you recognize potential issues your children may be having.
- Through this time together, kids build greater self-esteem and parents are able to role model healthy behaviors, whether it’s choosing nutritious foods or problem-solving a conflict.
- Kids and teens who eat family meals may earn higher grades in school, experience fewer symptoms of depression, and are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, like drug use.
- For kids in early childhood, family meals help develop language and social skills.
It Saves Money!— potentially quite a bit, depending on how frequently your family eats outside the home.
MAKE THE MOST OF FAMILY MEALS
Make the most of family meals
Here are some tips for getting even more out of family meals:
- Share the responsibilities among the whole family: food prep, table-setting, and clean-up.
- Give Choices! Let everyone choose their own seats.
- Keep it screen-free! Put the screens in another room.
- Set a schedule for which nights you will all eat together (make it as often as possible!), and keep to the schedule.
- If dinners are too hard, try family breakfasts or weekend lunches.
AN ADVENTURE MATCH!
Got some free time this weekend? Take the kids shopping with you to help pick out items they’d like to eat for an upcoming family meal—then enjoy your time together! You could even combine the GROCERY SHOPPING: Money Smart Kids Adventure with this and earn MORE POINTS.
Here is another list of 9 science-based reasons why family dinners are important.. Links to the research are located below.
1. FAMILY DINNERS MEAN BETTER FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
Eating meals together has the potential to strengthen family bonds as it provides a daily time for the whole family to be together. For younger children, routine family meals can provide a sense of security and a feeling of belonging.
2. FAMILY MEALS LEAD TO HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES
Eating family dinners is associated with healthy dietary food patterns. Matthew W. Gillman, MD, the lead researcher in a key research project on the topic, noted that family dinners allow for both "discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods."
3. EATING AS A FAMILY LEADS TO BETTER GRADES
Studies have proven that there’s a significant link between family dinners and academic performance. Only 9% of teens who ate frequently with their families did poorly in school, according to the report.
4. FAMILY DINNERS ARE A CHANCE TO EXPLORE NEW FOODS
Family meals have proven to be perfect opportunities for parents to expose children to different foods and expand their tastes.
5. FAMILY DINNERS LEAD TO GREATER HAPPINESS
Research examining 5,000 teenagers has shown that when children eat with their parents regularly, they are more likely to be emotionally strong and have better mental health. Teens who ate regular family meals were also more likely to be adjusted, have good manners and communication skills. This effect is not restricted to the children - mothers who ate with their families often were also found to be happier and less stressed as compared to mothers who did not.
6. HOMEMADE MEALS PROMOTE PORTION CONTROL
The average restaurant meal has as much as 60% more calories than a homemade meal. Combine the fact that portions served in restaurants are continuing expand with the fact that when we’re presented with more food, we’re more likely to eat more food, and it becomes clear that eating at home is simply healthier.
7. FAMILY DINNERS EQUAL HEALTHY KIDS
When families eat together, young children are less likely to be overweight or obese because these children eat regular, nutritious, home cooked meals, and also help in making or serving those meals.
8. FAMILY DINNERS RELIEVE STRESS
If you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed. In 2008, researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a study of IBM employees and found that sitting down to a family meal helped working moms reduce the tension and strain from long hours at the office.
9. EATING AT HOME SAVES MONEY
In 2007, the average household spent $3,465 on meals at home, and $2,668 on meals away from home, according to the national Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Per meal, that’s about $8 per meal outside of the home, and only about $4.50 per meal made in your own kitchen.
Click here to get links to the research above.
Ready to take family meals to a whole new level for triple the points?
Here are some ideas:
Work together to plan the menu
Work together to cook the meal!
Together, research proper etiquette for a table and then set the table properly.
With the table set properly you may want to prepare a 7-course meal. You could let each member of the family be in charge of choosing one or two courses.
Cook a meal for a shut-in neighbor or family member who could use a little pick-me-up.
Invite another family over to enjoy a meal with you.
Take a selfie of your family around the kitchen table enjoying a home-cooked meal together. Post it to your social media sites with the hashtags #DiscoveryFamily, #MyDiscoveryDestination and #Wattson
by Eat Together!
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