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Dinnertime = Family Time

Make time for family dinners, it’s more important than you think! We’ve all seen studies and statistics that say, kids who dine with their families are healthier, happier, do better in school and are all-around better adjusted. Wonder why? Because you more likely to know what’s going on in their lives and they’ll see that you care. (This can also greatly improve their report cards).

Family dinner time is more than just sitting down to eat food. It’s quality time with your children. Take this time to learn more about your child. You can talk about their day, friends, school, family and any concerns they may have. It’s also a prime opportunity to be a good role model, teach them table manners and encourage healthy eating habits.

You can include the kids by picking out recipes in advance and letting the kids help. There are plenty of kid-friendly cookbooks and recipe Web sites. Give them a task at the supermarket or while preparing the meal. Have them set the table, mix ingredients and talk to them, this is more quality time you’ll spend together. It will also make your life much easier for an added bonus.

Even if you’re thinking, “my family eats together,” think about that statement. Delivery pizza once a week? Children out-of-control and not paying attention while you discuss work? Fast food out of containers? gives us some inspiration for making time to eat dinner together. A BIG inspiration for parents everywhere: 9-14 year-olds who ate dinner with their families ate more fruits and veggies and less soda and fried foods. Diets also included more nutrients like iron and calcium. Use this time to discuss the importance of being healthy and proper nutrition. Educate them while they’re young.

Expose kids to new foods and expand their palate. With more exposure and less forcing them to eat veggies before they leave the table, they may just learn to enjoy new foods. Try sweet veggies like yellow and red bell peppers or adding spinach to whole grain mac ‘n’ cheese.

Portion control is a huge issue since eating out is highly caloric. Restaurant sizes can even double the calories of a homemade meal. If there’s more food there, we will most likely eat it. Stop expanding your waistline and catch it before it happens to your kids. Not to mention, cooking in will save your bank account.

Overall the message is to bond and talk with your kids and your partner. Kids that eat with their families are less likely to suffer from depression, consider suicide or develop an eating disorder. When a child is feeling down, a family dinner can act as an intervention.

Don’t forget table manners!

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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