Family dinners are a time to strengthen family ties and keep track of what is happening in your child’s life. They can also lead to better physical and mental health for children. According to a Harvard study, families that eat dinner together most days were associated with healthier eating. Additionally, children who often eat with their family tend to do better in school. Cooking and serving meals at home allows more control over the quality and quantity of your family’s food choices. Kids tend to mimic their parents attitudes about food; therefore, when you show your children that healthy eating is important they will follow your lead.
Your CHILL counselors, the mental health professionals based in each Winter Park Consortium School (Winter Park High and the elementary and middle feeder schools) have given a few tips for making the most of family meal times.
- Encourage your kids to help make the food. Keep it easy and simple, yet nutritious.
- Have your children set the table and help clean the dishes.
- Family meals should be a time for conversations, swapping ideas, feelings and learning about your children’s day.
- Have each person in the family share one experience about his or her day or one thing that they liked about his or her day.
- Turn off the TV, radio or other electronics and enjoy family time.
- Encourage everyone to eat slowly. You will enjoy each other longer and you will be able to easily tell if you are full so you don’t over eat.
- Meal time provides a great opportunity to reinforce family ties and pass on family traditions.
- Make dinner time about enjoying each other and learning about each other, not about discipline or discussing problems with school or work. Keep the tone of the conversation light and save the big stuff for family meetings or individual talks.