– by Dr. Bharti Raizada
Chicago, September 20, 2017 : In this era of screens all around, involvement in multiple activities and strict scheduling, family mealtime gets neglected and it usually takes last priority. If you ask me, cooking and eating together is one of the best times of the day. There are so many, long lasting, benefits of family meals i.e. the meal, which family members eat together.
Benefits of Family Meals
- It gives opportunity to connect with each other and talk about things happening in family and other members’ lives.
- Everyone is off screen and interacting with other members with a free and open mind.
- It gives feeling of acceptance, identity, and unity/togetherness/closeness. It actually strengthens bonding with other family members and decreases chances of misunderstanding.
- Gives an opportunity to express thoughts.
- Children usually mimic adults and are more willing to try new food items.
- Children learn empathy, respect, and sharing.
- It saves money also
Some studies and surveys have found that when family members eat together, children eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains and are less predisposed to obesity. They develop better vocabulary and communication skills and have improved academic performance. They are less prone to indulge in smoking, alcoholism, and illicit drug use. They feel less stress and have fewer incidences of depression and suicide
Some tips for family meal times:
- Make it a priority
- Have variety of healthy food choices
- Do not make it a disciplinary meeting
- Give children opportunity to talk and express themselves
- Discuss memories of your childhood, of positive incidences, some interesting facts, inspirational stories etc.
- Turn off all screens—TV, Computer, cell phone, tablet, iPad, music etc.
- Involve all members in setting up the table and in clean up
So, enjoy September as National Family Meals month. Celebrate September 25 as National Family Day, and have as many meals together as you can all year around!
The author is a Chicago-based anesthesiologist and pain physician and also the CEO of Same Condition, a global health initiative.
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