If you love home-cooked meals, we have good news for you! Family meals, besides offering an opportunity to share with your loved ones, may help improve eating habits and diet quality.
In a study published in September of 2007 1by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the eating habits of young adults were analyzed, frequently associating them with family meals during their teenage years. As a result, it was noted that family meals encouraged:
- Higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and B6 vitamin.
- Less consumption of carbonated beverages.
- Eating breakfast, specifically among women.
- Eating dinner, both in men and women.
- Better social behavior in relation to meals (for example, increased affinity to share meal times with other people).
- More organized meal structure, following established schedules for each one.
From this study, it was concluded that all family meals (especially during the teenage years) could contribute to promoting good eating habits and a higher quality diet in adulthood.
However, if it's hard for you to have family meals, here are some tips:
- Organize a family meeting where you all choose a meal that you can share every day—or at least once, or several days a week.
- Plan each meal menu with your family, including food that everyone likes.
- Suggest preparing each family member's favorite dish each week, or each month.
- Motivate your family members to share experiences, feelings, and plans. You could even prepare an activity to encourage dialogue.
- Gear conversations towards positive, conflict-free issues. A pleasant atmosphere is the key for everyone to treasure this time with the family.
Family meals are an excellent time to teach healthy eating habits to children and teenagers, as well as to encourage family gatherings. Now, make sharing around the table an ally for your diet plan, and share with your loved ones the goal of achieving a healthy life-style.
1. Dayong, Wu, et al. (2007). “Family Meals during Adolescence Are Associated with Higher Diet Quality and Healthful Meal Patterns during Young Adulthood.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 107(9):1502-1510.
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