Bring Back Family Mealtimes
Family mealtimes matter. Family mealtimes are the perfect opportunity to enjoy good food, encourage social interaction as a family as well as provide good nutrition for your child’s growth, health and wellbeing. Back in the good ol’ days families ate together at the dining table most days. These days the dining table is often a dumping ground for bags, bills and clutter! Or maybe it’s clutter-free but just a dust collector?
For some, eating at the table together as a family does happen on a regular occasion and we love that, but for many, eating meals on the couch while watching TV is the norm. Previous research conducted in Australia in 2008, including a nation wide survey of 1000 Australians, found that 45% of families report they eat together as a family every night of the week. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it. They also found that around 1 in 4 families eat together around 3 times per week or less. And while only 10% said never have the TV on during mealtimes 60% said they always or often have the TV on. That’s sad news for Australian families.
86% of respondents believe that eating family meals together is extremely or very important to them and 79% of respondents to the survey wished to make improvements to the quality of family mealtimes, which is great news. Of course busy schedules, sport training sessions and work timetables mean it might be unrealistic to eat at the table every night without the TV on but for families with young children eating together as a family wherever possible is important to everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Here’s 10 reasons why:
- Parents are able to role model positive eating behaviours
- Children learn how to eat by watching their siblings and parents eat
- It stimulates conversation and encourages positive family interactions
- There are more opportunities for parents to talk to children about good food and nutrition
- More likely to eat home cooked nutritious meals using healthy, natural ingredients
- There are more opportunities to introduce and try new foods
- The TV, computers, iphones and ipads are less likely to be used as distractions
- Encourages mindful eating and the ability to recognise hunger and fullness cues
- Parents can demonstrate and teach children good mealtime manners
- Children have more opportunity to be involved in food preparation and/or table set up as part of a mealtime ritual.
Top 10 tips to help bring back quality family mealtimes:
- Create a mealtime ritual
- Cook with your kids, involve them in food preparation and setting the table where appropriate
- Plan your meals for the week (or weeks) ahead, write shopping lists and shop for necesarry ingredients so you have everything on hand when you need it
- Let you kids help with meal planning and have them choose 1 or 2 meals for the week ahead
- Use less busy evenings and weekends to d0 some big batch cooking. This allows you to have healthy home cooked meals in the freezer ready to cook and eat
- Prepare and plan in advance for the busy evenings choosing simple & quick to prepare meals or freezer friendly meals you have made in advance
- Choose to eat at the dinner table rather than the couch as it encourages good posture, meal time manners, eye contact and social interaction
- Make the table an inviting place to eat, keeping it clutter free or at least remove the clutter for meal times
- Let your older kids know what time dinner will be so there are no battles getting them to the table and let your younger children know that dinner is 15, 10 or 5 minutes away so they are prepared
- Remove distractions such as the TV, ipads, mobile phones etc.
Of course this post wouldn’t be complete without sharing our 10 of our favourite family meals.
Here they are:
- Beef, Veggie & Ricotta Lasagne
- Baked Chicken & Veggie Rice
- Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni
- Pork, Fennel & Quinoa Meatballs
- Beef, Veggie & Brown Rice Meatloaf
- Teriyaki Salmon & Carrot Skewers
- Vegetable Lasagne
- Grilled Vegetable & Chicken Fajitas
- Fish & Vegetable Bake
- Pick ‘n’ Mix Fried Rice
And finally enjoy. OHCs x
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