Maintain a Healthy Weight with Family Meals – Strategies to Sit Down Together

As parents, we’ve become experts at juggling countless schedules: work, extracurricular activities, and other commitments. New parents hardly have time to shower, much less think about family meals. One thing is certain — life is hectic. It’s all too easy to forget about the importance of sitting down together for family meals.

Not only do family meals provide much-needed nutrition, but they are also a chance for us to connect with one another. They offer kids an opportunity to develop communication skills and to feel heard and valued. Research suggests that sharing meals together can even improve academic performance, strengthen self-esteem, and reduce the risk of a range of health problems, including depression, obesity, and substance abuse.

  1. Redefine expectations: Forget the fancy dishes and cloth napkins (which, honestly, 99% of us do not have), and focus on spending time together. This could mean a park picnic, sitting on a blanket in the living room, or setting the table with mismatched dishes.
  2. Unplug. Put away your phones. Turn off the TV and computers. Talk to one another. Take time away from the lure of technology to sit face-to-face with the people you love.
  3. Put it on the calendar. Give mealtime the same priority as you give taking your pet to the groomer. This is a health priority (not exaggerating). Studies show that when children and teens are part of regular family mealtime, disordered eating (in particular binge eating disorder) is reduced.
  4. Redefine family. Family means so many different things to different people. It could mean parents and kids, extended family, coworkers, friends, neighbors, or students. Mealtime is a time to connect, a time to be mindful about every nourishing bite.
  5. Make it a family event. All meals can be a time to share — everything from grocery shopping to cleaning up is part of the meal. Creative a collaborative culture around meals at home where everyone takes part. Also, this gives everyone voice in what they want to eat.
  6. Be practical. Prepare quick and affordable meals. Opt for purchasing in-season fruits and vegetables. In case you buy more than you need, consider cutting up the extra fruits and storing them in quart-sized freezer bags for later use. Make sure to label your fridge and freezer food with their name and date to avoid confusion. Preparing soups and sauces in larger batches and freezing them in family-sized portions can also save time in the kitchen.Slow down and cherish quality family time over meals. This might be a small investment of time, but the returns are truly phenomenal.Cheers!