Finding Time For Family Mealtimes

With hectic schedules including soccer practice, meetings, homework and other activities, it is often difficult to find time to sit down together for a meal. Though challenging at times to coordinate, family meals are a great opportunity for parents to serve as role models for healthy eating and for family members to talk face to face rather than via text, e-mail or cell phone. Research has shown that eating together as a family can benefit children’s health and wellbeing. Children who regularly eat meals with their families are less likely to be overweight and are more likely to eat healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables. They are also less likely to consume soft drinks and other low nutrient foods. In addition to nutritional benefits, children who regularly eat meals with their families are more likely to do better in school and are less likely to participate in risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking. To help your family enjoy the many benefits of family mealtimes, consider these strategies:

1)      Start small- Aim to eat dinner together one night a week to start and then work up from there.

2)      Morning meals- Family mealtimes don’t have to happen in the evening. Try sitting down together for a bowl of cereal in the morning if that is more convenient.

3)      Stick to a schedule- When possible, keep meals at a consistent time and day of the week so that family members can plan activities around meals.

4)      Keep it simple- You don’t need to spend the evening in the kitchen to reap the benefits of family mealtimes. If you don’t have time to cook, stop by your local No Frills Supermarket and grab a pre-made meal such as Baked Chicken, and serve it with a homemade spinach salad and fresh fruit.

5)      Focus on family- To get the most out of family mealtimes, shut off the TV and encourage family members to shut off cell phones and other distractions.

6)      Plan ahead- Before visiting the grocery store, plan your meals for the week including entrees and side dishes so that you have quick and healthy meals on hand.

7)      Team work- Involve other family members in preparing the meal. Allow your children to set the table or mix up the salad.

For a delicious and healthy meal that your family can enjoy together, try these BBQ Chicken & Cheddar Foil Packets.

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