It’s important for families to have meals together. Both young children and teens benefit from shared meals. It doesn’t have to be a grand event — a simple meal or even just a snack together offers the same benefits.
“The benefits of eating together make family mealtime a tradition worth pursuing as often as possible,” said Susan Mills-Gray, nutrition specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“Having raised five children, all who were active in school organizations and sports, as well as community youth groups, I fully understand how busy life can be for a family. Our family made the commitment to have at least one meal together daily and if a meal became a challenge for a particular day, then we gathered for a late evening snack around our kitchen table,” Mills-Gray said.
Research finds that shared meals provide the following important benefits for your children and teens:
Parents should remember that they are responsible for what food is offered and when, while children and teens can decide how much to eat or even if they will eat. Parents should make mealtime pleasant by avoiding discipline issues and eliminating distractions or interruptions — no cell phones, TV or music.
Eat with your children whenever possible and if you can’t share a meal, share a snack together. Mills-Gray adds, “If you’re too busy for a family meal, you may be too busy!”
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American Dietetic Association. Making the most of mealtime. 2002.