Family Meals Benefit Childrens’ Long-Term Health

We recently moved.   Our new home has a larger dinning area which means it is time to upgrade our table.  My husband and I bought our dinning room table in 2001 while living in Oklahoma.  During the past 17 years that table has been moved six times in 5 different states.  It is the table that our children learned to eat at; it is covered in water stains and scrapes.  It has been the home to thousands of family meals.  I may have shed a few tears watching the young couple we gave it to load it up in their truck.  I could have possibly told the couple where all it has been and how long we’ve had it.  Our 10 year old told me I was being a little ridiculous when I became teary-eyed.  I can’t think of any other thing we have ever gotten rid of that I have missed.
The table meant so much because the family meals mean so much to me.  So when I came across this recent study published in Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics regarding family meals it really hit home.  It was the first to look at whether family meals created healthier kids or was it just a coincidence that healthier kids just so happen to eat more family meals.  The study followed children from when they were 5 months old to 10 years old.  They then compared their study results of those that did have more family meals to those who didn’t while able to account for preexisting traits of family dynamics.  Children that ate regular family meals where more fit, drank less sodas, had better social skills, were less aggressive and missed fewer days of school.
From a nutrition perspective family meals help increase fruit and vegetable consumption, improves a child’s variety of foods in their diet and helps with eating habits like eating slowly and not overeating.  Even if the food you are eating is take-out, put the phones down, turn off the TV and ask someone how their day was.  You will be so glad you did and so will they!  – MK
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