making time for familymeals
Tips for families who want to discover(or rediscover) the benefits and joys ofeating together more.
one adult as with two or more. And
the adult can be a mother, a father,
a grandparent, an extended family
member or a guardian
to having one to three more meals a
together at breakfast, lunch or supper
is equally beneficial
smartphones and other devices that
can distract during meals
food, setting the table and cleaning up
what the meal will be
preparing the meal (even little ones
can help mix something up in a bowl)
on the time you spend in the kitchen,
make enough food at one meal to
have leftovers the next or another day
meant to be a pleasure.
to the well-being of children andadults alike.
“Eating together really contributes
to your overall health in so many
ways,” says Debbie Gray, manager
of Mental Health Screening and
Early Identification for AHS. “When
families sit down together to eat,
hopefully they’re talking with one
another and the parents are
‘checking in’ with their kids and
the kids are ‘checking in’ with their
parents. This connectivity is vital
to healthy and supportive family
Gray says some families have
difficulty connecting because they’re
so preoccupied or are so busy they
don’t take (or make) time to sit down
and talk over a meal.
“Mealtimes are often a victimof time crunches,” Gray says. “We[North Americans] have forgottenthe importance of eating together,but Europeans really understand thewhole social side of eating.”
A learning experience
Family dining is also purposeful.
It’s around the dinner table—or
kitchen island, breakfast table or
wherever else family meals are
served—that children learn about
food, and what and how much to
eat. Bandali says with parents as
inspiration and role models, kids
learn to appreciate roasted squash
and steamed cauliflower, to finish
their milk and to use a knife and
fork. Often children come to like
what their parents like: when moms
eat lots of vegetables and fruits, their
daughters eat more vegetables and
As well, children of all ages learnabout manners and etiquette: saying“please,” “thank you” and “may I beexcused?” and chewing with theirmouths closed. They also learn howto carry on a conversation, whichinvolves listening and expandingtheir vocabulary every bit as much asspeaking and exchanging ideas andopinions.
Gray says “the rules” of familydining depend on the family.
“Family meals don’t have to havea rigid setup or structure. Familiescan organize their meals together in away that works for them.”