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The Importance of Family Mealtime

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I have believed in the importance of family mealtime for a long time, I think since my boys were in elementary school. The time that was spent together, even if only for 10 to 15 minutes a night grew to be one of the favorite times of the day, especially as the kids grew older. It was one of the few times that we were all able to enjoy one another’s company, discuss what everyone had done that day (”what was the best part of your day”) and to also try to teach table manners to three boys. An added benefit was that the boys became fairly good “eaters” as my husband (who by the way is a good cook) and I also subscribed to the “same meal” for the entire family theory. I mean, who has time to cook multiple meals? Mow, that is not to say that they all ate the dinners that were made, and there were plenty of complaints too, but over the years they began to explore more foods and they even learned that pork is not chicken, what a breakthrough. No one starved when they didn’t like a meal; they always seemed to find something on the table that they would eat. We also let everyone have their say in meal planning one night a week, when you could pick your favorite meal.

A study from the April issue of Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior also found that eating together as a family “has long term nutritional benefits.” This study assessed the eating habits of 677 youths during their early teen years and then again five years later. Those who ate regular family meals at both points in their life had “better diet quality, and consumed more vegetable, calcium rich foods, dietary fiber and essential nutrients.”

So start up those family meals, it is never too late and it will improve your child’s overall nutrition. As an aside, they will learn that a napkin goes in their lap!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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