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As parents, we often struggle to ensure that our children eat healthily. In today’s fast-paced world, it is common for children to be busy with extracurricular activities or to eat on-the-go. However, research has shown that spending more time at the dinner table can encourage kids to eat healthier. It might be time to return to the family meal.

One study published in the JAMA Network Open found that children who regularly ate dinner with their families consumed more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, and less fried food and soda, than those who did not. The study also found that children who had frequent family dinners had a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Eating together as a family also provides an opportunity to model healthy eating habits. Parents can show their children the importance of a balanced diet by serving a variety of nutritious foods, such as lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Parents can also involve their children in meal planning and preparation, which can help them develop an appreciation for healthy foods.

Moreover, spending time at the dinner table can encourage children to slow down and savor their food, rather than rushing through meals or snacking mindlessly. This can help children learn to recognize when they are full, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

In addition to its health benefits, having a family dinner has also been linked to better academic performance, improved social skills, and stronger family relationships. It provides an opportunity for family members to connect and communicate, fostering a sense of unity and belonging.

Of course, in today’s busy world, finding time for family dinners can be a challenge. However, it is important to prioritize this time as much as possible. Even if it means scheduling family dinners on certain days of the week, or setting aside a specific time for meals together, the benefits are worth the effort.

Here are a few tips for making family dinners happen:

  • Set a regular time for dinner every night. This will help to create a routine and make it more likely that everyone will be able to make it to dinner.
  • Make dinnertime a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Turn off the TV, put away the phones, and focus on spending time with your family.
  • Make sure there are healthy options available for everyone. If there are healthy foods available, kids are more likely to eat them. If you are struggling with meal planning, try this tool.
  • Don’t force your kids to eat anything they don’t want. This will only make them more likely to resist eating healthy foods in the future.
  • Be patient and positive.¬†It takes time for kids to develop healthy eating habits. Just keep providing them with healthy options and modeling healthy behaviors, and they’ll eventually get there.
  • Know what you are eating. Having a meal plan can make getting dinner on the table easier.
  • Try another meal. If dinner doesn’t work for your family, try another meal. Have breakfast together!

So if you’re looking for a way to encourage your kids to eat healthier, make family dinners a priority. It’s a simple change that can make a big difference in their health and well-being.