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Making Family Dinners Work For You

Hello Villagers.
Research shows time and time again just how beneficial family dinners can be for children. In our younger children, we see an increase in vocabulary; which can lead to early reading and better academic performance. We also see an increase in fruit and vegetable intake. Older children who consume regular family dinners are less likely to be obese as adults, have better academic performance, and have lower risk of depression and suicidal thoughts compared to those who do not have regular family dinners.
The problem these days is lack of time for these important sit-down meals. We are constantly rushing from one event to another. Whether it’s school events, work meetings, sports practice and games; we as a society have lost the family dinner. And while these things are important, family dinners should be considered equally important. Below you’ll find a few tips to help you get family dinners back on the calendar.
business Calender Planner meeting 2017 on desk office. organization management remind concept.

Plan Ahead

Don’t assume you’ll make time. As the week goes on, the schedule fills up quick. Just as we plan meetings and soccer games, we need to plan ahead and put family dinners on the calendar too. Aim for as many as you can, even one will be beneficial.
Baked chichen breasts with lemon, white rice and green spinach

Keep it Simple

The meal doesn’t need to be gourmet, it just needs to happen. Choose foods you are comfortable cooking and your family enjoys. Takeout works too, as long as you are eating together.
Family using digital technology at a lunch table

Avoid Distractions

It’s time to turn off the TV, put down the cell phones, and put away the tablet. Minimize the distractions around you so that you can focus on one another.
Asian family sharing meal at home

Encourage Communication

Time to get your kids to talk! Encourage them to talk about their day and tell stories. Prompt them to elaborate with hows and whys instead of yes or no questions.
If you are looking for additional resources, please check out https://thefamilydinnerproject.org/ .

Jessica Barnes, PhD, RDN, LD

Dr. Jessica Barnes received her PhD in nutrition from Texas Woman's University. Her research focused on food preference development and creating materials to help preschoolers become familiar with healthy foods. She has worked with families and communities as a clinical and community Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

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