As we see the trend of not only obesity in one or two people of the household, we are also seeing a rise among family obesity. Here is a recent article I came across in which I believe to be so profound. If we can start sharing our support to families coming together to eat together, studies show not only are we more healthy weight wise, but also in all areas.
Teens who eat with their families at least five times a week are 40 percent more likely to get A’s and B’s in school than their peers who don’t share family meals. They’re also 42 percent less likely to drink alcohol, 59 percent less likely to smoke cigarettes, and 66 percent less likely to try marijuana. They were also less depressed.
The benefits are truly profound. Separate research showed, for instance, that with each additional family dinner, adolescents had:
Fewer emotional and behavioral problems
Greater emotional well-being
More trusting and helpful behaviors toward others
Higher life satisfaction
Families Who Eat Together Build Stronger Relationships
Culturally, humans have been joining together for meals since ancient times, and we may be engrained to build relationships in this way. Even in modern times, family relationships appear to grow stronger around the dinner table, with another study concluding:
“Our findings suggest that family meals may provide a unique opportunity for building stronger families and young people. Creating environments where frequent family meals are normative, valued and feasible for families may result in benefits for young people that extend beyond good nutrition.”
Still more benefits associated with family meals include:
Better vocabulary development among children
Increased self esteem
Helps children build resilience
Lower rates of teenage pregnancy
Making Family Meals a Priority
One of the keys to optimal health is having someone in your family (or someone you hire) invest some time in your kitchen, preparing meals from scratch instead of grabbing meals out and bringing home.
Spending the time together to eat the meal you’ve prepared is likely equally important, but both take planning to make them a reality. One of my favorite sayings with respect to your meals is if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.
This means not only shopping ahead of time so you have the food available to cook, but also setting aside the time to eat together. Many sports for kids are scheduled at the family dinner hour, for instance, or parents may have a hard time getting home from work at a reasonable hour.
If you value the importance of a family meal, however, you must make it a priority. This might mean your family meal takes place at lunchtime instead of dinnertime on certain days of the week, but ideally strive to eat together as often as you can, scheduling non-essential activities around your dinner, and not the other way around.
You may have certain recipes and other culinary traditions that you learned from your mother and grandmother, which you plan to pass on to your children, too. This is important, as often these passed-down recipes rely on traditional cooking methods and real, whole foods – not the processed convenience foods that are so common today.
As the documentary highlighted, part of the benefit of the family meal isn’t only the time you spend eating together, but also the time you spend preparing your meal and cleaning up. Getting your children involved teaches them invaluable lessons about food preparation and how you function together as a family, and the more you involve them in the process, the greater the benefits are likely to be.
If you are seeking to use food to optimize your health, it is helpful to pay attention not only to the food quality, but also to how you prepare it, being careful to use methods that do not seriously impair its quality. Seek to get back to the basics of cooking, such as:
LEARN TO COOK HEALTHY AND INVOLVE YOUR CHILDREN IN THE PREPARATION
Cooking with real ingredients like coconut oil and butter in lieu of polyunsaturated vegetable oils or margarine
Planning your meals around the seasonal produce available in your area
Quite simply, we’ve strayed too far from the foods we are designed to eat, exchanging the convenience of processed foods and fast foods for our very health. Going back to basics and refocusing your diet on fresh, whole, unprocessed, “real” food prepared and shared in your own kitchen can improve just about anyone’s health, and at the same time help you fulfill your own family’s need for coming together over a good meal.
I am looking forward to our evening at Christmas Eve. It is when all our boys come home and we prepare a meal together. I pick out the menu, they choose which recipe to follow and make. It’s a time we all love spending time in the kitchen, and yes it is crowded but its a tradition we all love. Lets all be healthy together!
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