Healthy families don’t just happen; they are nurtured. Nurturing is a slow, tender process. Lives are so busy these days for kids and grownups alike and, unfortunately, this too often means “eating on the go” or eating at separate times to accommodate these schedules. Families today are pulled in many different directions with schedules that can be hard to coordinate. Because of this, while some families may eat together daily, many are sharing a meal together only on weekends or special holidays.
The importance of coming together around the dining room table to enjoy a meal and some conversation is important, among other benefits, regular family dinners have been positively linked to higher academic performance.
A seated parent, who is unhurried and unlikely to be interrupted by anything, is rare in a busy day, the bottom line is that a parent with his mouth full is the ideal listener for a child who has something important to say. When a child feels listened to they are more apt to find the time to sit and talk with their parents, whether it be a serious conversation or casual banter.
This is where a family culture is nurtured—around the table night after night, this time is crucial. We must come together for a time every day to talk to each other, to be with each other, to make time for some relaxing and uninterrupted family time
TIPS TO GET YOUR FAMILY STARTED
You don’t need to be a gourmet cook - Simple healthy foods served with love and laughter will outshine gourmet goodies almost any time. Slow cookers, make ahead meals, and some careful planning make life easier.
It Doesn't Have to Be Hot to Be Healthy - Tuna sandwiches, a salad and some fruit salad can be just as healthy for your family as something you slaved over at the stove.
Focus on Food Choices Vs. Forcing Food - allow children to eat until they're full without forcing 'one more bite' or a clean plate.
Start Slow, Learn as You Go - Don't try to go from no meals to nightly meals. Start with one meal together weekly. Find what works for your family and go from there.
Take Turns Talking With a "Talking Stick" - If everyone in your family talks at once, borrow the "talking stick" idea. Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk. You might have a "talking cup" or other special item that gets passed around.
Don't Answer The Phone During Mealtime - How often are your meals interrupted by the phone? Get in the habit of turning off cell phones and leaving them away from the dinner table.
Turn Off The TV - Encourage family members to star in their own lives and relate to each other rather than to some image on the TV screen.
Get Children Involved in Making Meals - Children, especially younger children, tend to tune in more to meals they help prepare
Cook it Quick But Eat it Slow - Check out the many cookbooks and Internet resources that give tips for putting together healthy meals in a hurry, but be sure to allow enough time to eat slowing, savour the meal, and enjoy the company of family