Homework, late workdays, after-school activities, long commutes…it’s no wonder families find it so hard to eat dinner together. Yet studies show that eating as a family is an important part of healthy living. In fact, a study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children and adolescents who shared a meal with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, be at risk for eating disorders or eat unhealthy foods such as soda, fast food, fried food and sweets.
Family dinners are also an opportunity to stay involved in your child’s life – spending quality time together, engaging in conversation about their lives and monitoring their eating behavior.
Here are a few tips to help you make it to the table more regularly:
- Keep it simple. Family meals don’t have to be elaborate. Work salads and vegetables into the mix and focus on familiar favorites, like spaghetti or chili.
- Get the family involved. Make the meal a group effort by letting the kids help prepare the meal and set the table.
- Use the crock pot. If you know it’s going to be a late night, put everything together before leaving for work in the morning. You’ll be less stressed throughout the day knowing you’ll come home to the delicious smell of a cooked meal.