How did you eat dinner last night?
No matter the answer, it will have an impact (either positive or negative) on your health – and your family’s.
Despite the popularity of cooking shows, which encourage healthy meals, Australian families are increasingly choosing convenient and fast meal options often eaten in front of the TV and while using phones.
If the above scenario is too familiar, and you’re struggling to remember the last time you shared a home-cooked meal across a dinner table, you’re not alone.
However, while this common dinnertime habit has been linked with childhood obesity, studies have shown the numerous positive outcomes associated with home-cooked meals shared around the dinner table with family.
This “old-school” eating habit can also influence weight control, psychological functioning and improved interpersonal relationships, as well as creating open communication.
The simple act of conversing and interacting provides emotional support, which develops resilience. Plus, research has also shown that children who enjoy a family meal together at least four times a week have higher school results. Genius.
Family dinners also provide an opportunity for positive eating behaviours to be reinforced to young children, which will be retained throughout life. These behaviours include nutrition, manners and eating speed – something some adults could do with a reminder of, too.
For many busy parents though, the thought of cooking a nutritious, yummy, balanced meal following a busy work day is overwhelming. To make this task more manageable, you’re your children create a menu to be repeated each week, which eliminates decisions and the risk of choosing fast foods.
Remember, balanced meals don’t require obscure ingredients or hours of preparation like my Bellamy’s baby enchiladas recipe, which takes 10 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook.
Another way to make daily meals a priority, without mobile phone and television distractions, is to give each household member a role. This could include setting the table, preparing the meal, or clearing dishes — helping bring you closer together each evening.