You know how food just seems to taste better when you’re eating it with people you love? That’s the magic of mealtime. Sharing a meal is one of the best ways to get to know someone new or to reconnect with family and friends. And making or sharing a delicious healthy meal is an even greater act of love.
September is National Family Meals Month™, and we’re teaming up with food retailers, registered dietitian nutritionists and others to highlight the importance and benefits of eating meals together at home. According to the Food Marketing Institute:
- Kids and teens who share meals with their family three or more times per week are significantly less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy foods and less likely to have eating disorders.
- Children who grow up sharing family meals are more likely to exhibit prosocial behavior as adults, such as sharing, fairness and respect.
- Regular family meals are linked to higher grades, more motivation, better self-esteem and stronger relationships with parents and siblings.
One of the biggest benefits of family meals at home is that they’re usually healthier. Be sure to include lots of favorite fruits and vegetables and explore plant-based or meatless meals. Use this as an opportunity to model and teach kids about smart eating choices.
With kids back in school and day-to-day routines returning to normal, September is the perfect time to get back in the family meals habit. Take the pledge and commit to another dozen minutes together around the table.
We know it can be tough to get the whole gang to the table at the same time.
Here are some tips to help add family meals without adding stress:
- Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy meal or something you’ve never made before. Look for recipes labeled “quick and easy.” If you can, do some of the prep work in advance (over the weekend or the night before).
- Make only one meal that everyone will eat. Plan side dishes to accommodate picky eaters.
- Engage the kids in meal planning and prep. Let them choose recipes or side dishes. Have them help with cooking doing age-appropriate tasks. If they’re up to it, make it a completely kid-cooked meal.
- Use conversation cards or starter questions. Talk about favorite activities or tell jokes. Let kids direct the flow of the conversation.
- Family meals can include breakfast and lunch, too. See what works for your family’s schedule. Weekends may be easier.
- Set at least two regular meals each week when everyone is usually available. Make it a commitment but be flexible when needed. Put it on everyone’s calendars.
How will you add more family meals at home this month? Join the conversation using #FamilyMealsMonth and #HealthyforGood.