After a long day at work, it’s easy to skip the home-cooked meal and grab fast food for everyone to eat in the car. Even if you do cook at home, it’s hard to get all your family members to the table at the same time. With everyone’s busy schedules, family dinners have become a thing of the past. But more and more research shows that family dinners are worth the extra effort.
More nutritious foods
Eating together isn’t just a great way to catch up and spend time together as a family. It also can help all of you eat healthier foods. Studies show that when families eat together, kids eat more fruits and vegetables and less fried food and soda. They’re also less likely to have eating disorders and more likely to keep a healthy weight.
If you have dinner with your kids, there are even more benefits you might not expect. For example, family dinners make kids less likely to get in trouble at school, start smoking cigarettes, drink alcohol or try illegal drugs, or get depressed. Kids who eat with their families also are more likely to put off having sex, get good grades, and feel their parents are proud of them.
Plus, you’ll save money. Eating out costs about twice as much as a home-cooked meal.
Making dinner happen
Having and planning for family meals isn’t always easy. But there are ways to make it simpler to add it in to your routine. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your kids to make the perfect family dinner time every night. Start slowly. If you usually eat one meal together a week, try for two.
Make a meal plan when the week starts. Make sure you have all the food you need. You can do any prep work, like chopping veggies or cooking and freezing casseroles, beforehand. Then you won’t have to rush on your week nights. Or you can use a crock pot for an easy dinner that will be ready right when you walk in the door.
Try to make family dinners relaxed and easygoing, so everyone feels supported. Ask your kids what happened during the day. Turn off the TV and put away cellphones. Laugh together. Try to enjoy the time you’re spending as a family. Even if dinner doesn’t always go as planned, you’re showing your kids how to have healthier eating habits and improving their self-esteem.
MORE HEALTH TIPS FROM ANTHEM
To learn more about healthy living, visit www.anthem.com/wisconsin. Our team of experts is always sharing new health tips, topics, and preventive care programs for you and your family to use.