Make Meals a Family Affair

Families, Food and Fitness December 03, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

There are many benefits of family meals. Families are more likely to eat a nutritious meal when most or all of the family eats together. Families who eat at home have control of portion sizes and ingredient choices. Children who eat with their families are likely to consume more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Research shows that adolescents are also less likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs during their teen years. Enjoying meals together enhances family communications and improves manners, too. And, of course, there is a lifetime of positive memories that sharing meals together creates.

father and daughter cooking

Engage your children in age-appropriate mealtime tasks when possible. The family meal does not have to be a formal dinner. A family meal can be a breakfast or even lunch. In fact, nutrition experts say that family meals don’t even have to be enjoyed around a table. The important factor is to eat together. If your schedule won’t accommodate a family meal around the kitchen table, opt for something different. In warm months, plan a picnic lunch before or after a game; have lunch at the park; plan a meal with grandparents or friends; or have family cook-outs.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.