Twenty-first Century living is all about carving out time for ourselves. Most of us have far too little of it, and constant stress wreaks havoc on our health. We are realizing that taking steps to reduce stress and enhance family and social ties can actually make us healthier.
Fast-food meals, grabbed on the run, not only take a nutritional toll, but they keep you and your children from the proven benefits of family mealtime. Food eaten at leisure in a peaceful setting with loved ones should not be a luxury: It is actually crucial to your health and the health of your family.
The simple fact is that families who eat together are healthier in many ways. A survey conducted by the University of Minnesota found that frequent family meals are related to better nutritional intake and a decreased risk for unhealthy weight-control practices and substance abuse. Another study, conducted at Harvard, found families that ate together every day, or almost every day, generally consumed higher amounts of important nutrients, such as calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C and E, while consuming less overall fat compared with families who “never” or “only sometimes” ate meals together.
The health benefits of eating together are plenty. Here are a few tips for making more together-time at meals:
- Make family meals a priority by marking them on the calendar.
- Enlist help from the family in prepping meals, and have the kids set the table.
- Eliminate distractions. Don’t answer the phone or have the TV on while eating.
- Make mealtimes a pleasure: Avoid intense or heated conversations.
- Introduce new foods (and of course new SuperFoods) every-so-often, and encourage tastings.