Our schedules can get hectic quickly, and we often need more time to connect and communicate with our loved ones. By prioritizing family meals, your family can feel united and have higher self-esteem just by eating together. Family meals have shown benefits in lowering rates of obesity, eating disorders and depression. As a family, you can improve your dietary intake and connect to your cultural and ethnic heritage all at the table. Below are some recommendations on how to improve your family's health by having a meal together.
Strategies for More Family Meals
For starters, we need to make family mealtime a priority! Check schedules, plan ahead and block off time on your calendar to ensure everyone can join. Expand your options; family mealtime does not have to be at dinner. If you cannot eat lunch or dinner together, try sitting down for breakfast to start your day. Remove the pressure; family mealtime does not have to be fancy. You don't need to set the table for a four-course meal; you don't even have to eat at the dining table! Your family may like to eat at the counter, on barstools or the floor gathered around a coffee table. As long as you are together, that is all that matters. Let this time be about your family and remove distractions like cell phones, tablets and TV to create a technology-free zone.
Make the Family Meal Fun
Family meals should be a positive experience for everyone. Use these opportunities to get to know each other and get creative with your family. Meal themes and conversation starters are an easy way to accomplish this. For meal themes, think outside the box of traditional meals, try Fiesta Fridays, color-themed meals or even "build-your-own" options like a brunch buffet. For conversation starters, follow up with "why" when asking a question. For example, you could ask, "What were your highs and lows of the day?" and have them explain why they felt those were their highs and lows. Keep the fun going by letting all family members pick themes and conversation starters to make family mealtime enjoyable.
Get the Whole Family Involved
Depending on your family dynamic, one or many family members may plan and execute all meals. Instead, try getting the whole family involved in the process. Mealtime should be a family affair, from grocery shopping to cooking to cleaning. Try rotating duties or assigning tasks to get things done in a way that works best for your family. Everyone can develop healthier habits, learn basic skills and try new foods by involving everyone.
Building new routines takes time to become a habit, so keep practicing. Find what works best for your family. These tips are a great way to get started, but the important thing is that you do it together!
Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform. To learn more, head to https://www.hy-vee.com/health/hy-vee-dietitians/default.aspx and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session with a Hy-Vee dietitian. We offer a variety of services to help you meet your weight loss goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.