Join us on December 3rd for “Dine-in Day for Healthy Families.” The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences are encouraging people to eat at home for a least one meal on December 3rd. Why eat meals together?
Many benefits especially for youth and children have been documented by having three or more family dinners a week. These include:
• Teens are half as likely to smoke, do drugs or get drunk.
• Avoidance of depression, higher grade point averages and increased self-esteem
• Lessen the risk of teen pregnancy
• Positive impact on literacy and language development
• Increased family connections and memories
• Opportunities for parents to monitor child’s or teen’s friends, activities, and attitudes
• Develop better dietary choices and food preferences
• More family meals correlates with lower BMI in youth
• Less eating disorders
If we examine all the benefits of family meals, it can make you feel guilty for not eating together. How can you make family meals happen?
1. Decide on a meal that will work for everyone. It does not have to be dinner. If you can’t do dinner together try to a breakfast, lunch, or a snack time. If you can’t have everyone have as many family members as possible.
2. Try to schedule eating together three or four times a week or if possible once a day.
3. Decide on a menu. It does not have to be an elaborate meal; make it simple. Just be sure you have the ingredients you need.
4. Involve everyone in the cooking or preparation of the meal. Children can cut up vegetables, set the table and other tasks. Cooking skills will benefit youth and children in the future. Have teens prepare the meal with guidance from you.
5. When possible make enough for two meals, cutting down on future meal preparation. You can freeze the other half if you want. Most stews, casseroles, chilis, and beans can be doubled and then frozen.
6. Stock your pantry with ingredients to cook a fast, tasty meal. Examples include whole grain pasta, pasta sauce, canned beans, frozen vegetables, oatmeal, potatoes, spices, dried herbs, onions, garlic, brown rice, and oils and vinegars.
Let’s all “Eat In” on December 3rd and make it a weekly occurrence.
Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension
Reviewer: Liz Smith, Program Specialist, Supplemental Nutrition and Assistant Program – Education, Ohio State University Extension
American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, (2014.) Dine In With Us, Available at http://www.aafcs.org/FCSday/
CASA Columbia Foundation. (2011). “The Importance of Family Dinners VII,” Available at http://www.casacolumbia.org/addiction-research/reports/importance-of-family-dinners-2011
Food and Health Communications, Inc. (2014). “It’s Possible: Easier Family Meals” Available at http://www.foodandhealth.com
Science Daily, (2014). ‘”Family Meal’ Ideal is Stressful, Impossible for Many Families” North Carolina State University Available at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140903105642.htm