The Importance of Family Meals

3 Reasons Why Eating Together is Better

Today’s fast paced environment can make family meals seem like a thing of the past, but let’s bring it back! Today on the blog we will be discussing the importance of family meals and some tips and tricks on how to reconnect at the table. Keep reading for more!

If I think back to my childhood, there is one routine I remember so fondly- family dinner time. A time to connect, share some laughs about our days, and eat delicious meals together. While the years have passed and school, work, and technology has advanced, I have seen the amount of family dinners diminish, but my love for it sure has not! It is so easy these days to stop and get a bite to eat by yourself or turn the tv on and tune out, but is it as rewarding? It may take a little more effort than it used to, but we think it is worth it. So, let’s get to the benefits of eating together shall we! And remember, these benefits are not exclusive to just family members but with friends too, so get those invitations going!

The Importance of Family Meals

Scheduling time to eat together is so important for connecting with loved ones. Mealtimes together and regular communication can help build stronger relationships and create a sense of belonging, importance, and love for its members. A routine of coming together to connect can help build trust among members, allow for sharing of stresses and less isolation. Family meals can also be a source to celebrate traditions and build a love and respect for food.

Connection

Some tips to make the most out of your connection at the dinner tables include scheduling a family meal so everyone can prepare and be present. It can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so pick a time when everyone can join in! Also, leave distractions off and away from the table including tv’s, phones, toys etcetera and promote focus on the company. Finally, encouraging positive conversations and leave difficult conversations away from the table when possible to keep members wanting to come back to connect. 

Need a conversation starter? Try putting together a jar filled with funny questions or have members pick on the spot! Another idea Atheana has started doing with her family  is sharing about your  rose, thorn and bud for the day. She started doing this at the start of the school year after her 4 year old would not share any details about her day and school. How it works is sharing about the best part of your day (rose), the difficult part (thorn), and what you are looking forward to (bud). It is now something her kids request before they even sit down to dinner.

Eating Behaviours

Family meals are a great time for members to model and foster positive eating behaviours that can last a lifetime. Try introducing new foods regularly with a variety of senses to allow children to decide what they like and do not like (or learning to like). Choose recipes that require new methods and tools to keep them engaged while learning to cook. Let them be empowered by meal planning together so they can offer their ideas of meal options that they enjoy. Allow them to learn about and trust their hunger and fullness cues by letting them decide when they are done. Avoid pressuring and rushing family members to finish their plate and ignore their cues. Finally, take pride in eating traditional foods and teaching them why you eat the foods you do!

Food Skills

Family mealtimes can provide a great opportunity for food skills and general life skills for kids and adults alike. Food planning, preparation, grocery shopping, nutrition, food safety, and cleaning are just some of the important skills that can be both learned and taught surrounding family mealtimes. Sound daunting? Start small friends! Start with one more family meal a week than you have now and see what is manageable. Also, remember that the company and connection is priority, not just the food on the table. No need for big fancy spreads, use fresh and pre-made foods as needed. Finally, get the family involved in the process. This can be during things like the meal planning, grocery list, food shopping, cooking, table setting, or clean up. Teach children how to crack an egg, how to follow a recipe, or how to store leftovers. There are so many ways to help family mealtimes be easier but also allow for independence, empowerment in decision making, and other important life skills for those involved!

The Importance of Family Meals

And there you have it ! I hope you learned a little about the importance of family meals and some tips for returning to the table today! We have a lot of things on our plates these days *pun intended*, so why not tackle it together? What tip are you excited to try out? Let me know in the comments below. See you next time and I hope you get to enjoy some quality time eating together until then!

If you need support for your family to get back to the table and end mealtime battles please connect with our pediatric family counselling services. Because feeding your kids with confidence and ease is possible!

 
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    Atheana Brown is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in disordered eating, body image, intuitive eating, and family nutrition. Her mission is to break the generational cycles of dieting and body shame.

    Offering nutrition counselling virtually across Ontario Canada. Book a free discovery call to learn more.

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