Family meals are a comforting ritual for both parents and kids. Children like the predictability of family meals and parents get a chance to catch up with their kids. Kids who take part in regular family meals are also:
- More likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and grains
- Less likely to snack on unhealthy foods
- Less likely to smoke, use marijuana, or drink alcohol
In addition, family meals offer the chance to introduce your child to new foods and find out which foods your child likes and which ones he or she doesn’t.
Teens may turn up their noses at the prospect of a family meal – not surprising because they’re trying to establish independence. Yet, studies find that teens still want their parents’ advice and counsel, so use mealtime as a chance to reconnect. Also, consider trying these strategies:
- Allow your teen to invite a friend to dinner.
- Involve your teen in meal planning and preparation.
- Keep mealtime calm and congenial – no lectures or arguing.
What counts as a family meal? Any time you and your family eat together – whether it’s takeout food or a home-cooked meal with all the trimmings. Strive for nutritious food and a time when everyone can be there. This may mean eating dinner a little later to accommodate a child who’s at sports practice. It can also mean setting aside time on the weekends, such as Sunday brunch, when it may be more convenient to gather as a group.