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The Consequences of Family Dinners

Por Nydia Rivera Alcaide* -
The Consequences of Family Dinners

Think back to the family dinner table you remember as a child. Do meals fit for a king come to mind? Did your family members enjoy eating until they were ready to burst? Did they believe the more children ate the stronger and healthier they’d become, or the chubbier the cheeks, the cuter?

Let’s fast forward to the present. Thanks to family customs, some adults have ended up more than slightly heavier than the rest of their friends and colleagues. Those chubby cheeks aren’t so cute anymore. If you are one of those children, then you know it all started at the dinner table, which is where most people learn their eating habits.

The root of the problem

Now that you know that the eating habits you learned as a child at the dinner table may have contributed to your weight problems, you can find a solution. First, evaluate your own eating habits. When you sit down at the dinner table, think about how much food you and your family serve yourselves:

  • Does everyone usually have more than one helping?
  • Do the meals include the same types of food like carbohydrates and fats?
  • Does thought go into the food’s preparation?
  • Do the recipes include a variety of ingredients?

No matter who is making the meals, there are many things you should take into consideration.

The need for change

Everyone in the household will benefit from learning healthy eating habits at home. Explain to all family members the benefits of eating healthy, and talk about making small changes that will improve everyone’s health.

According to Dr. Eleazar Lara-Pantin (nutrition specialist at MyDiet TM ), several family members often have the same problem. Some members may not be overweight or obese, but instead suffer from other medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, that could be a result of poor dietary habits.

To start tackling bad habits, draw up a menu plan promoting balanced and moderate eating habits. This menu plan should take into account each family member’s preferences. Be careful not to force anyone to eat foods they don’t like. Instead, you can make changes and adjustments in the servings and preparation of the foods they prefer that may not be as healthy as others.

How do you come up with a tasty, varied, and feasible menu plan? Consider the following suggestions:

• Include a variety of foods in moderate servings that provide vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
• Prepare food in a healthy way, avoiding greasy or calorie-loaded seasonings.
• Eat everything in moderation. You can have a rich dessert once in a while.

If you can maintain a balance among all the components of the diet everyone in your household will benefit. Family members that are overweight should start to see gradual weight loss over a few months. Children will grow and develop healthy bodies. Those with medical conditions may improve their conditions, and maybe even control them without any medications. Even the athletes in the family will have more energy.

The desire for support

"When a family member is overweight, do not isolate him/her from the rest of the family, especially if you think his/her overweight/obesity has resulted from the family dinner table experience as a child. Don’t consider habits acquired this way as an isolated fact," stresses Lara-Pantin, ”Other factors play a role.”

"Everyone in the family should support the overweight family member through an eating plan that neither separates nor segregates that person," explains Lara-Pantin, ”Create a favorable atmosphere so they feel good about themselves."

From early childhood, people should learn to eat a well-balanced, varied, and above all, moderate diet.


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