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We live in a strange time, a time where we are over working to give our family and ourselves the best comforts in life, but don't have time to enjoy the simplest things in life such as having daily meals together. Eating meals with your loved ones is a comforting ritual for the mind, body and a great way to increase family bonding. However, when everyone is juggling busy schedules one doesn't often get time to have a proper meal let alone having it with the family. But its time to reinstate family meals to their former glory, not only because they reconnect a family but also because they have a positive impact on children's eating habits.

Studies from the University of Minnesota, Harvard and Rutgers that have looked at family eating habits of nearly 40,000 middle-school students and teenagers, proved the beneficial effects of family meals on children. The research has shown that children who regularly have meals with their parents eat more fruits, vegetables and calcium-rich foods and consume less junk food. Some of the research has shown that children who regularly have family meals are at lower risk for behaviors like smoking and drug and alcohol use. When a family eats together, more often than not healthy, home cooked meals are the menu. As children learn by observing, they inculcate their parents eating habits.

Family meal is a chance to introduce your child to new foods and act as a role model for healthy eating. Eating meals together has other benefits too. Children like the predictability of family meals, they view it as a time when they can share their day's experiences with their parents; its secure, warm time for them. As parents too get a chance to catch up with kids, it helps in strengthening the parent-child bond. Parents can use meal times as a chance to assess behavioral or physical changes in their children that might signal problems. Meal time conversations and mannerisms can subtly drill down family values, culture and food etiquettes into children.

Just as family meals are good for children they are good for you too. You may have observed that when you eat alone, you don't really enjoy the food, eating becomes an act of filling your stomach rather than enriching your body and soul. People who reach home way past dinner either tend to skip dinner or just eat something quick and convenient. Contrast this with a family happily gathered round a dinner table that is laden with a sumptuous, healthy, hot meal. Eating with family helps you eat better, healthier. It helps you unwind your stress and reconnect with family.

Food has a high sanctity to it. It's 'the element' that keeps us going. Sitting alone and forcing it down is an act of disrespect towards food. Food should be celebrated and respected and there is no better way to do it than by eating it heartily with your folks. Also, remember, ' the family that eats together, stays together'.

Meal Tips

  • Make sure the family eats at least one meal together daily. It could be breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • If it is not possible to eat together during weekdays, make sure at least weekend meals are with family.
  • If it's not possible for both parents to eat with children, take turns to eat with them.
  • Ensure variety in food.
  • Be a role model for children by eating healthy yourself.
  • Keep the meal time congenial and happy. Avoid having fights or arguments when having food together. It is believed that a cheerful and stress free mood during eating aids better digestion.
  • One weekends shift the family meal venue to a local park, playground etc. If your extended family or friends live close by, once in a while ask them to join you. This will break the routine and keep children happy.


Health Initiative from KS Oils