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family time

A family that prays together stays together. And a family that stays together eats together. Now you may not have heard about the second quote that much but the point is when you have the family at home, don’t you think the best thing would be to have the whole family sitting together at the table. Cos there is probably nothing greater than seeing the whole gang sitting around the same spot, eating at the same time and even serving or helping each other at the table.

Remember how each time you ate at your own will at the table, your mom or dad would remind you that you’re doing it all wrong. And then, unwillingly you would obey them and follow the so-called “code’’ of eating at the table. Years later while you’re dining with the big/business/ high-class kind of people and you see how they keep eating the food in most ridiculously professional manner, it makes you think, ”maybe mom and dad were right after all”.

Truth is not many of us maintain this kind of table culture with our family members. But for those of you looking for ways to eat alone, don’t you think the least you could do for the people fed you all your life is to just sit by their side. I mean c’mon is that really so hard?

There are just so many benefits out there when you spend more time with your family at the table than any other time in the world.

Regular family meals result in better eating habits for Teens !!

Good eating habits can rise from individuals who eat together with their families. Researchers have found that teens who participated in regular family meals reported more health - rich diets and meal patterns compare to teens who didn’t eat with their families regularly.

A study was carried out comprising of 12-13 years old teens during 2 stages of their life, involving a five-year gap(Time 1 and Time 2) to see how they behaved during this period. The following results were observed -

    • 60% of youth had regular family meals but got decreased to 30 % during their middle adolescence.
    • Teens who ate during both the periods in their lives (time 1 and 2) were likely to consume both breakfast and dinner on a regular basis.
    • Teens from both these periods also consumed foods like vegetables, calcium-rich food, dietary fiber and several nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.

Researchers conclude that having regular family meals during the transition from early to middle adolescence can positively impact the development of healthy eating behaviors in teenagers. Regular family meals also meant that teenagers were following a much healthier lifestyle that included meals with long-term nutritional benefits.

The benefits of shared mealtime experiences, especially during this period in a teenager’s life should be emphasized to parents, educators and even healthcare providers. The research was carried out by Teri L. Burgess-Champoux, Ph.D., RD, LD .

Eating together as a family can help kids feel better - physically and mentally !!

Not only does eating with the family mean that a child is exposed more to nutritional food, but it can also benefit the child’s physical and mental growth.

A study was carried out by researchers to determine the behavior of kids who ate with their families regularly. The study included monitoring kids during 2 stages of their life -age 6 and age 10. The following results were found -

    • when the family meals environment quality was better at age 6, higher levels of general fitness and lower levels of soft-drink consumption were observed at age 10.
    • The kids were found to have more social skills and were likely to be less physically aggressive at age 10.

According to one researcher, the presence of parents during meal times can provide kids with the following benefits -

    • firsthand social interaction
    • discussions of social issues and day-to-day concerns
    • vicarious learning of pro-social interactions in a familiar and emotionally secure setting.

Also by indulging in positive forms of communication can better help improve the kid’s communication skills with people from the outside world. These little family meal sessions can indirectly let parents, both educate and improve a child’s well being.

The research was carried out by doctoral student Marie-Josee Harbec and her psycho-education Professor Linda Pagani.

Cooking family meals and skipping TV during meals may be linked to lower obesity !!

A research study just found out that adults reported never watching television during family meals had significantly lower chances of obesity when compared to people who regularly watched television during meal times. Also, individuals who consumed home cooked meals were less likely to develop obesity than the ones who consumed non-home cooked meals.

A study was carried out to determine whether family meals and watching television could have an impact on individuals and the following results were found-

    • Obesity was more common in individuals who ate family meals 1 or 2 days a week unlike those who ate family meals every day.
    • Obesity was less common when individuals had their meals with the television turned off and when the meals were cooked at home.
    • The lowest odds of obesity were for those adults who did two things simultaneously like eating home cooked meals and not watching television during these meal sessions.
    • It was also found out that frequent family meals led to better dietary outcomes and the chances of kids becoming obese or overweight were much lesser than kids who didn’t.

The study was carried out by Rachel Tumin a survey and population health analyst manager at the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center.

Benefits of cooking and eating together as a family !!

Researchers have found that family meals promote healthier eating. And not just putting a healthy meal on the table but family meals can offer other benefits like offering the time to talk, listen and even build family relationships.

Here is a list of suggestions according to one researcher, when it comes to having family meals, these are -

    • Start Slowly – Regardless of the meals you eat with your family, add one more to your weekly schedule. If school nights become too hectic for a family dinner, try compensating the lost meal at a weekend like a breakfast meal or even lunch.
    • Planning tasty menus together – Allow each member of the family get to decide a favorite family item and build simple, delicious meals around them. Even kids can pick a main dish like macron and cheese or even pasta. A vegetable of their choice for salads like carrots and maybe sliced apples for fruit salad or dessert.
    • Set the right mood - While food is important, add in a little elegance to the table by setting the table right. Try using a candle, colored napkins and even wipe clean plastic table mats for kids.
    • Talk – Interact with your family members. Share ideas, experiences and even family values along the table. Choose positive topics that can engage everyone in a conversation. Allow the little kids to voice their opinion too.
    • Switch off the noisy stuff – Turn off the television, phones and anything else that makes a lot of noise. These things only create distractions for family members seated around the table and may even ruin the whole concept of a family mealtime. Try putting on something more soothing like a background music played at a very low volume as it adds into the relaxing and peaceful dining table atmosphere.

The study was carried out registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Angel Ginn.