Experts continue to discover plenty of benefits for families who sit down together for a meal at least 3 times a week. Here’s just some of what they’ve found:
- Family meals give parents a chance to teach their children.
- Eating together supports family togetherness and a sense of belonging.
- Mealtime conversations give everyone a chance to talk about their day.
- Eating and talking as a family can protect teens from unsafe behaviours such as drug, tobacco and alcohol use, and criminal activity.
Busy work and school schedules make it hard to find time to sit down around the table. Here are some tips to make the most of your time together:
- Turn off the TV. Create a calm and relaxed atmosphere.
- Children as young as 2 years old can help scrub a potato, tear lettuce for a salad or carry cutlery to the table.
- Ask your child to sit at the table for a short time at meals even if they are not hungry. They will be learning the social value of mealtimes.
- Let children and other family members pick and choose from foods that are on the table.
- Never force or bribe a child to eat. This may lead to more dislikes or become a way to get your attention.
When you role model and teach your children to eat healthy foods, to try new foods, to help with food preparation and good table manners, you are building a foundation for an active and healthy lifestyle!
~ Contributed by:
Heather Torrie, Public Health Nutritionist
Sunrise Health Region