Enjoying the Benefits of Family Dining

I’m Amanda and I am a dietetic intern from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I have been interning here at the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Office for the past two weeks. Over these past two weeks I have learned a lot about extension and the many, many programs they do; it has been a fantastic and fun experience. I have been very thankful that my parents are from Omaha because they let me stay at their house with them, my older brother, and younger sister, so that I would not have to make the hour drive back from Lincoln every morning and evening.

Being home has reminded me of many of the things I love about spending time with my family; one of the best is eating dinner together, as a family. Even when I was little, we aimed to eat dinner together as many nights as we could. These dinners gave us the opportunity to talk, laugh, and just be together. I’m not sure whether my parents knew there were benefits of eating dinner as a family or if it was just something they liked to do, but I am very thankful we did.

A few of the benefits of eating as a family include:

–          Teaching children to listen and express opinions

–          Giving children a feeling of security, togetherness, and structure

–          Giving parents an opportunity to check in and monitor their children’s activities and feelings

–          Giving parents the chance to teach children about healthy eating

Even though we are almost grown up now, I’m glad my parents can still see the benefits of sitting down for a meal together, and they make an effort to have us sit down together every night we can. When we were little, it was sometimes difficult for us to sit down together as a family because we all had many different activities going on after school.

Here are some tips for your families to make time for a family meal:

–          It doesn’t have to be dinner. Eat breakfast together before everyone rushes off to work or school.

–          Plan ahead. Know what activities are coming up and plan your mealtime to fit around those activities.

–          Get everyone involved. When kids are involved with cooking they will be excited about the meal.

–          Turn off electronics. Use mealtimes as a chance to be with your family without the distraction of the television, phones, and computers.

Your challenge for this week is to take an hour one night this week to have a home cooked meal with your family. Enjoy the positive conversation and maybe it will lead into bigger and better family dinners down the road!

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