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Tuesday, April 13 2010

When was the last time you sat down and had a meal with your family? I know it's difficult with ball practice, karate, cheerleading, dance and demanding work schedules. But it's really time that we bring this dying tradition of family meals back to the tables of homes across America. Research is beginning to show that eating as a family has great benefits for your children, teenagers and families. The facts speak for themselves:

Benefit #1: Communication and Sharing

How much time did you spend conversing with your children this week? According to A.C. Nielsen Co, the average parent only spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children. Sitting down around the table --whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner-- provides the opportunity for your family to bond, plan, connect, and learn from one another. It's that chance to share the news of the day and let members of your family know what is going on in each others lives. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can really be a bonding experience for the entire family.

Benefit #2: Prevent Unwanted Behaviors

Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine noted in 2004 that frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds. A University of Minnesota study in 2004 noted that adolescent girls who have frequent family meals, and a positive atmosphere during those meals, are less likely to have eating disorders.

Benefit #3: Better Grades

Children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Teenagers who eat dinner four or more times per week with their families have higher academic performance compared with teenagers who eat with their families two or fewer times per week. In 1996, Harvard Research did a study that found family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children. The statistics are clear, kids who have dinner with their families are healthier, happier and better students.

Benefit #4: Better Nutrition

Eating meals at home gives your control over what is prepared and served at mealtime. Home cooked meals are generally more nutritious and healthy. Eating at homes allows you to offer meals containing more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients that are essential for healthy bodies and minds. Reason # 8: Save Money Eating out can be expensive. Did you know that a family of 4 dining at Olive Garden 8 times spends around $480? Eight pizza deliveries cost about $200! Eight trips to McDonalds run about $180! Eating at home is a great chance to save time, eat healthier meals at home and stretch your grocery budget. Meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. Currently, the restaurant industry's share of the total food dollars is more than 46%.

It is time to bring your family back to the dinner table. With a little planning and scheduling, you can reap the benefits of family mealtime. Soon you will be reconnecting and communicating more effectively with your family, helping your children do better in school, preventing unwanted behavior in your children, providing better nutrition for you family and saving money.

Yvette Mason is a stay-at-home mom, "domestic engineer", and Meal Planning Consultant with Homemade Gourmet®. She enjoys helping bring families back to the dinner table with the products, ideas and services that make today's home-cooking easy for people with busy lifestyles. When not busy with her home business, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends by enjoying all that the beautiful Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia has to offer.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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