There is no secret recipe to make family meals happen, but research does show that there is a health benefit to having a good mealtime routine on the home front.

Take time for family meals

Family Dinner

Now that school is under way and everyone is hustling and bustling here and there, families are ultra-busy. Certain things can fall by the wayside, like a reasonable bedtime and home-cooked meals in a timely fashion.

There is no secret recipe to make family meals happen, but research does show that there is a health benefit to having a good mealtime routine on the home front. Here is more from this University of Minnesota research.

The good news: For families who prepared more meals at home and ate meals at regular times or on a schedule had an overall healthier diet. There was less fast food, fewer sugary foods consumed and more vegetables were eaten at meals.     On the other hand, for those who regularly skipped meals or ate on the run without set meal times, there were more frequent fast food meals. Also, there were more meals eaten while watching TV or playing video games – in other words: distracted eating.

If meals seem erratic in your household, have a family conversation about how to make reasonable changes to rectify this. A start might be to have all meals at the kitchen table facing each other vs. in other rooms or in front of the TV.

Other tips:

  • Can you have a no-phone call, no-technology rule during meals so that you and your family can really engage in discussions about the day? 
  • Establish regular hours for breakfast and dinner. The kids get a set meal time at school, don’t they?  So can you.

The trickle-down effect of regularity with meal times appears to be healthier foods served, probably because more meals are prepped at home. Everyone can and should pitch in to help get ready for the meal or clean up afterwards. These are important life skills that all of your children can learn before leaving the house.

Healthy recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.