January 10th was National Sunday Supper Day, a day that reminds us of all of the benefits of eating together as a family. Kids seem less likely to become overweight. They’re less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. There is less stress and tension at home. Families will talk – about their problems, dreams, and everyday lives. And everyone at the dinner table tends to eat healthier meals, rather than grabbing less-healthy foods on the fly.
At Field Trip Factory, we know the importance of eating healthy with several field trips in the health and nutrition category. Students love learning about the food groups and how to shop for healthy foods in their local grocery stores. But what do students do with the information they learned and the experiences they gained during the field trip when they get home? Hopefully, they share those experiences around the dinner table! Simply sharing a meal as a family has shown to provide many health benefits. So here are 10 tips, from the WebMD website, for sharing more family dinners.
10 Tips for Organizing Family Dinners
- Set a goal. Twice a week, perhaps? Build from there.
- Keep it simple. Family meals don’t have to be elaborate. Work salads and vegetables into meals. Focus on familiar favorites, like chili or frittatas.
- Be prepared. Keep ingredients for healthful meals on hand, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Keep healthy ‘appetizers’ on hand. Stock the kitchen with fresh fruits, nuts, and low-fat cheese — stuff the kids can snack on after school, instead of chips.
- Get the family involved. Let kids help prepare meals and set the table.
- Use the crock pot. Put everything together before leaving for work in the morning. You’ll come home to the delicious smell of a cooked meal.
- Pick up take-out, order pizza, or eat out. It still counts as quality time spent together.
- Avoid portion distortion. Keep serving sizes under control, whether you’re at home or eating out.
- Make it enjoyable. Leave the serious discussions for another time. Family meals are for nourishment, comfort, and support.
- Set the mood. Play soothing music. Put flowers on the table. Light a candle. Create a relaxing environment.
Check out the Family Dinner Project for meal ideas, topics of conversation, tips for getting help with clean up after the meal and advice on other challenges when it comes to family meals! Share some of your tips for a great family meal in the comments.