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Studies show that family mealtimes equal happier, healthier kids


Family dinner
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(NaturalNews) Gathering around the family table for dinner together is becoming a rare event in this high-tech, crazy-busy world of ours.

However, it is something that families should try to make happen as often as possible. According to the scientific journal New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, a study showed that "...your child may be 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods and 12% less likely to be overweight (Hammons & Fiese, 2011). All three of these statistics are attached to one family ritual--shared mealtimes."(1)

Ensuring that the meals are as healthy as possible boosts the health benefits. With a national childhood obesity epidemic currently sweeping the nation, parents have an obligation to help their kids make healthier food choices. After all, we control the grocery list and meal planning, so we might as well make the best choices we can!(2)

Tips for planning family mealtimes

If you are ready to get your family together at least a few times a week for a sit-down meal, here are some ideas to help you get started:
  • Plan ahead. Brainstorm menu ideas and shopping lists ahead of time so you can be prepared.
  • Get the kids involved with the planning. Include your kids in the process, asking them for their input on meal ideas. Browse cookbooks together.
  • Include the kids in the meal prep. Have your children join you in the kitchen to help make dinner. Also, have them set the table and ask them to make it special -- maybe they can put a recent school craft on the table as a centerpiece!
  • Unplug! Make a clear policy of "no tech" during your sacred family dinner nights. Turn off the TV, and no smartphones allowed at the dinner table. Have everyone put their phones on silent as well.
  • Turn on the music. Play some lively or calming (whatever your preference) music to create a happy atmosphere for everyone's enjoyment. Take a family vote on what kind of music to play!

What do we talk about?

If sitting down around a table to eat and talk together as a family feels a bit foreign to you, start a list of "conversation starters" to get things going. Avoid asking "yes/no" questions, as these are conversation dead ends.

Here are a few ideas to get you started: (3)
  • What was the best thing that happened for you today?
  • What is your favorite book/show/etc. and why?
  • If you were stranded on an island for a year, what would you bring with you. Why?
  • What are some of your ideas for performing random acts of kindness? Are there any we can do as a family?
  • What is the most important trait in a good friend? Why?
  • What are you grateful for today/this week/this year?
  • What is your favorite holiday, and why?
  • Are there any board games that would be fun for us to try?
  • What kinds of things make you happy, and why?
This is just a starter list -- ask your family members for other ideas, write them on slips of paper and put them in a jar. You can bring out the jar on family dinner night and pick a question randomly to get the conversation flowing.

There is nothing quite like having a sit-down, family meal together, where the conversation and laughter flows, bonds are strengthened, and memories are made.

Sources:

(1) http://www.human.cornell.edu[PDF]

(2) http://www.naturalnews.com

(3) http://www.ahaparenting.com

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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