As we get lost in the hustle bustle of life it can be difficult to get together as a family to eat meals, especially as children get older and have activities that keep them busy.
But the importance of family meal time should not be underestimated, with studies showing that regularly eating meals at the table as a family has innumerable health benefits for children.
Here are some of the reasons why you should move dinnertime from the couch to the dining table.
When families eat together there tends to be a higher intake of nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy products and a lower intake of soft drinks. Our kids learn by example and constant exposure to healthy eating by parents is a great start to developing lifelong habits. This is particularly relevant in children who often refuse to try new foods. Repeated exposure and seeing others eating those foods can help overcome any reluctance.
Lower rates of overweight and obesity
Approximately 1 in 4 children and 3 in 5 adults are overweight or obese, which can have detrimental long-term health effects such as Type 2 diabetes. Children that eat meals as part of a family unit have a reduced likelihood of becoming overweight, which is likely to be a result of improved nutrition.
Reduced disordered eating
Eating disorders may first become evident in teenage years and if not addressed can continue into adulthood. Lower levels of purging, binge eating and frequent dieting were seen in those that regularly eat meals with family. This has been associated with improved parent-child relationships and open lines of communication, which help foster healthy attitudes towards food and boost self-esteem.
So make sure you set the time aside. If family meal times are not already a regular event in your household why not start with one or two a week.
Before long progressing to regular family meals will feel like an easy and enjoyable change to make.
This information is provided by the Sanitarium Nutrition Service.
Your say: Does your family eat together at the table, or separately in front of the TV?
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