Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Family Meals?

If you've read more than a couple entries on this blog, you know that I am strongly in favor of regular family mealtimes. Okay, so way past "in favor of"--I believe it is something every family should do…as often as possible. 

Best case scenario? Everyday.

Before you give up on this post as impossibly idealistic, please read a little more.
Kids who eat sit down meals with their families on a regular basis:

  • Are more likely to have better eating habits and a healthier weight
  • Will probably develop a wider vocabulary and conversational skills (Taste of Home, December/January 2012, p. 84)
  • Teen and tween girls who have at least 5 meals a week with their families are almost one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits and dysfunctions. (Good Housekeeping, August 2010, p. 107)
  • High school teens who miss more than two days of meals with their family are seven times more likely to use illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) research)
  • CASA’s Lauren Elbaum says this last statistic is “true regardless of a teen’s gender, family structure or family socioeconomic level.”

Just in case you need
Another good Reason to Eat Dinner Together

It’s worth it, but how can you make it happen?
If there’s food on the table and everyone’s eating it, 
call it dinner. 
by Pilar Guzmán, Jenny Rosenstrach, and Alanna Stang, p.10)

You probably have the necessary food to throw a meal together at home that will save you at least $15 spent at the drive through. So drive home instead and make one of these:

  • An “omelet”—To your whisked eggs add any of the following: cheese, bacon, sausage, lunchmeat, olives, chopped pepper, chopped onions, canned mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, leftover meatloaf crumbled, leftover chopped veggies; serve with toasted “garlic” bread (toast bread, butter while hot and sprinkle with garlic salt) and orange slices
  • Spaghetti—cook the noodles, heat a can of prepared sauce and add a side of tomato and cucumber slices
  • Pancakes—with sausage or fried eggs and slices of fruit
  • Grilled Cheese—and a bowl of canned soup; super easy!
  • “Chef’s” salad—throw in cold meats, cubed cheese, sunflower seeds, sliced pickles, mandarin oranges, green or black olives; serve with slices of bread with cheese melted on them under the broiler
  • Frozen pizza—add any kind of salad combination you can come up with
  • Stuffed baked potatoes—bake potatoes in microwave, open a can of chili and heat it; pour over sliced open potatoes, sprinkle some grated cheese on it
  • Tuna melts—mix up tuna the way you like it, place on open faced English muffins, put a little cheese on top, and broil until cheese is bubbly; serve with side of any fruit

Get everyone involved in the preparations: set the table, pour the water, slice, dice, chop, grate, sauté, stir, and light the candles. If they help they are more likely to eat it too!

Then sit down, take a deep breath, ask someone different to give thanks, and start the conversation by telling the kids your most embarrassing moment that day or about your crazy dream the night before.

Starting a habit always takes a first day. Why not today?

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