Lisa Perry
Health & Wellness

Benefits of family meals

Did you know that September is National Family Meals Month? I just learned that myself. You may be asking, “Why do we need to celebrate family meals?” Families are spending less time together during meals than previous generations. With our busy lives, we often eat on the run. We’ve been taught that it’s faster to eat at a restaurant or go to a drive-thru fast-food chain. But, those meals often lack in nutrition, with unhealthy portion sizes containing too much salt, sugar, and calories. 

Children of all ages can benefit greatly from enjoying a meal together with their family. According to an article published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, some of those benefits include building family relationships and social skills, better nutrition, learning correct portion sizes and cooking skills.  

In addition, adolescents who participate in frequent family meals are less likely to experience depression, alcohol and substance abuse, violent behavior, and disordered eating. A positive relationship exists between enjoying regular family meals and increased school success and self-esteem, as well.

Meals don’t have to be gourmet. Keep them simple: roasted chicken legs with potatoes and carrots, and a simple salad. Roast extra chicken for chicken salad or tacos later in the week. Get the children involved in meal prep. Have them set the table, wash or chop veggies, depending on their age. Some children will even get excited over weekly meal planning.

So, why not enjoy a family meal together tonight? You may find you benefit from a family meal, too. Plus, children of all ages can participate in the post-meal clean-up!

Lisa Perry
Registered dietitian nutritionist who believes proper nutrition has the power to transform health. Loves dark chocolate.