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National “Dine In Day” is today (December 3, 2015), but dining in with your family is important all the time. “Dine In Day” is sponsored by the AmeriDinner with Familycan Association of Family and Consumer Sciences to encourage families to reconnect and dine in. If you aren’t ready for “Dine In Day” yet, start planning now so you can begin dining in more often with your family. Numerous research studies report the benefits for children to eat family meals together:

  • Children who eat as a family make healthier food choices and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Teens that eat with their families are less likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and use illegal drugs.
  • Eating with families gives teen’s better self-esteem and are less likely to be depressed.
  • Young children model their parents and other adults; by eating meals together they are more likely to eat healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat proteins, fruits, and dairy foods.
  • Dining together builds communication between generations and bonds families, benefiting family members of all ages.

To get your family back in the habit of eating together and dining at home try starting small. Plan just two days a week that you are going to eat together (if you are eating out all the time now). Involve the whole family in the meal planning and preparation – ask others what they want to have or what sounds good for this week. Be sure to eat at the table together, eliminate distractions like TV or phones, and discuss positive/neutral topics.

If you don’t know where to start try these websites for inexpensive and quick family meal ideas:

What’s Cooking, USDA Mixing Bowl

Share Our Strength’s, Cooking Matters

Food Hero

Let us know what you decide to fix when you “Dine In”. In the comment section you can message us your favorite family meals or use the #hashtags #FCSday, #healthyfamselfie, or #DineInDay.

Sources:

American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences: http://www.aafcs.org/FCSday/

Washington State Dairy Council: http://ext100.wsu.edu/clark/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2014/02/eattogethereatbetter.pdf

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Science, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1061

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewers: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County and Daniel Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension .

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