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The Importance of Family Mealtimes for Canadians

Keeping the Family Dinner Tradition Alive

Having dinner together gives your family the chance to interact, learn from each other, and strengthen bonds. Family members can talk about their days and share interesting thoughts and ideas, and they can create good memories associated with the food and time they share. 

In addition to sharing life experiences, families can talk about foods and flavour combinations, and food-preparation methods. Eating and preparing meals together helps to produce a sense of mindfulness and appreciation for food. 

Family dinners are commonly enjoyed in most cultures. However, this beautiful tradition has been fading over the last 30 years. 

As we all know, our daily routines have changed a lot from previous decades. Traditional routines have been turned upside down, and this can adversely affect the whole family connection, especially for the kids. Thus, it’s important to keep family relationships connected rather than isolated by rooms or electronic devices.

Eating Together Improves Family Bonds

  • Improves communication 
  • Helps to share each member’s problems
  • Helps to understand each other 
  • Paves a way to open talk
  • Helps to better know your family 

Improves Communication

Having a meal together provides family members with a time to connect. A feeling of security, love, and safety is created when children feel this way.

Helps to Share Each Member’s Problems

Encourage pleasurable conversation when your family is preparing a meal or eating dinner. There are plenty of other times that you can talk about grades, homework, chores, or misbehaviour. All conversation does not have to be positive though.  Dinner also creates an opportunity to talk about serious issues such as the health of a loved one or a current event.

Helps Build Understanding

Talking turns should be taken, and everyone should have a chance to speak.  Parents should step in if one person is dominating the conversation. For example, you can say something such as: “I appreciate you telling us about your day. We haven’t heard from John yet, and can’t wait to hear what he has to say.”

Paves a Way to Open Talk

Engage your children in the conversation by asking questions. “How was school today?” you might ask. The likely response is often: “Fine.” However, if you ask, “What did you learn at school today” or “What was the best thing that happened at school today?” then you are more likely to get a more engaged answer.

Helps to Better Know Your Family 

Sitting down and eating together as a family without interruptions sends the message, “I care about you. I want to stay in touch and hear what you have to say.” It doesn’t matter if you argued before dinner; you can show your child forgiveness by letting the conflict go. The message of love is still clear when you model emotional control for your child.

Eating Together Improves Good Eating Habits

  • Prevent picky eating habits
  • Those who eat with family have more vegetables, fruits, and dairy products
  • Helps to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods
  • Improve overall eating habits

Today’s busy families are challenged with finding enough time in their day to prepare healthy nutritious meals. Far too often, they opt for a quick meal by going to the drive-thru or ordering pizza. Using the HelloFresh app can help you maintain healthy eating habits. You can log in and choose from a huge selection of fresh meals, and plan those meals several weeks in advance, which is a huge time saver. It couldn’t be easier.

Prevent Picky Eating Habits

Eating meals with family members is associated with a better diet overall, especially among adolescents. Teens who ate with family were more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and sugary beverages. These findings apply regardless of how functional or dysfunctional a family is, according to the study.

Those Who Eat With Family Have More Vegetables, Fruits, and Dairy Products

The typical family meal tends to include more fruits and vegetables, as well as fewer fried foods than a solo meal. Children of all ages are also advised to eat dinner together as a family because research suggests that this promotes healthy eating habits. You may even lose excess weight.

Helps to Distinguish Between Healthy and Unhealthy Foods

Meals eaten with family have long-term benefits for adolescents. Even if they only shared one or two meals a week with their families, adolescents who did so tended to be less overweight 10 years later.

Improve Overall Eating Habits

The dietary patterns of children ages 9 to 14 who are regularly seated at their families’ tables are more healthy, eat more vegetables and fruits, less trans and saturated fats, less soda and fried foods, lower glycemic load, and more vitamins and micronutrients.

Healthier eating habits during childhood are also linked to better eating habits in adulthood.

Eating Together Prevents Weight Problems

  • Prohibits overeating
  • Encourages eating healthy foods
  • Supports eating a balanced diet

Reduces Overeating

Among the benefits of families eating together is the fact that children are 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating. Also, 24% of children are more likely to choose healthier foods. During family meals, toddlers tend to eat more nutrient-dense food and show less fussy eating behaviours. The intake of fruits and vegetables among preschoolers also improves when they eat with their families.

Encourages Eating Healthy Foods

When family meals were accompanied by nurturing relationships, childhood obesity in low-income minority families was reduced significantly. This held true even though meals lasted an average of 16 minutes.

Supports Eating a Balanced Diet

When you help your children prepare food, they are more likely to eat it. For fast, easy meals, mix fresh ingredients with pre-made foods. Kids that get involved in food preparation will learn so much about what a balanced meal is, and get used to the idea of preparing meals in general. Keep things interesting, and make more food from scratch over time.

Don’t worry about the meal being perfect; togetherness is what matters most. Your kids can create a more positive relationship with good healthy food and everybody involved. Kids can also learn kitchen safety through cooking together. However, make sure they are always supervised. You can end the fun fast if someone is burned or cut! 

Fewer Behavioural Problems

  •  Will help to learn how to speak in front of others
  •  Encourages good behaviour in hard situations
  •  Learn manners

Will Help to Learn how to Speak in Front of Others

Besides general health and fitness, the social interaction and discussions of current issues at the table can make kids better communicators.

Encourages Good Behaviour in Hard Situations

Research shows that eating meals with family reduces behavioural problems among adolescents. Eating with your family lowers your risk of experimenting with substances. There is less likelihood that boys will drink, commit violence, or destroy property. Also, there is less likelihood of girls and boys running away.

Learn Manners

Lead by example and your kids will learn how to be a well-mannered person. Talk about good manners when you see your kids behaving badly, but for most part they will learn civility by watching you.

Eating Together as a Family is More Important Than You Think

  Creating a healthy eating environment in the home can be accomplished in many ways when family meals are prepared. Having your family dine together gives them the chance to interact and learn from each other. 

The act of eating together allows family members to speak and be in touch about their days, share fascinating ideas and thoughts, and create happy memories. Together, family meals are a wonderful opportunity to learn about family customs and traditions, to explore new foods and flavour combinations, to practice mindful eating, and to appreciate good food. 

A balanced and enjoyable family meal does not have to be expensive, time consuming, elaborate, or always novelty-driven. Maintaining a rotation of regular family meals can help you save time and keep stress levels low, while still providing good nutrition. You can prepare an amazing meal in just a few minutes by batch cooking and freezing leftovers. Family favourites are often easy and quick meals. 

Delivered meals can also be a great way to try new recipes, since much of the initial planning is already done for you. There are many benefits to ordering take-out meals once in a while. They can allow you to try new foods and give you time to relax from cooking and cleaning.

Treasure the time you can spend with your family at meal time. It can keep family bonds close, and with all the unexpected health benefits, family dinner time can be very rewarding for every family member.

It is vital that you play a key role in influencing the eating habits of your children. As a good role model who creates a positive eating environment, you can assist your children in developing healthy eating habits that can have a lasting effect on their health.