In recent years, our time spent together with family at meals has dramatically decreased. Factors contributing to this are kid’s schedules, long work meetings or no food prepared at home. No matter the reason, it may have lasting impacts on our health. The Washington State University Extension is trying to make a positive impact on this issue by rolling out the Eat Together, Eat Better campaign to help families start eating more meals together.
Besides getting into a good habit of spending time together, family meals can encourage good health. According to the research done by WSU Extension, family meals help support many aspects of a healthy life including physical, social and emotional health1. One of the biggest hopes is to reduce the high rate of obesity in children. This program is trying to engage members of the family in a healthier lifestyle centered around a table with healthy food and conversation.
WSU Extension put together a program that focuses on three areas: Cook Together, Talk Together and Celebrate Together. Here are some examples of how to incorporate these into your family’s routine:
- Cook Together: Cooking starts with planning. Have your teens help plan meals for the week. Engaging them prior to the grocery shopping will make them excited to help you cook and try the food. This gives you opportunities to learn new cooking skills as a family.
- Talk Together: An added bonus to eating together is you have a perfect platform for conversation. Give everyone an opportunity to share something about their day. You may find yourself enjoying the food so much that you discuss next week’s menu over dinner. You may choose to make a rule that all electronics are put away during the meal to foster better communication.
- Celebrate Together: Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or accomplishments don’t always have to be around overstuffing yourself with pizza and ice cream at a restaurant. Instead add a twist and make your own ice cream as a treat or a unique meal such as sushi. You get to eat something delicious plus learn a new skill together and the celebration becomes more about time together rather than being so focused on splurging.
It should come to no surprise that planning ahead, cooking, eating, talking and celebrating together leads to better choices and health. The nutritional benefits are huge but kids that are eating with their families also tend to do better in school, are less depressed and have a lower chance of having substance abuse issues1.
How do you start a routine like this for your own family? Start small. If you rarely have a meal together at home, set a goal of once a week and slowly adjust schedules as able to come together more often. Even if you can’t always be together at meals, work together to plan meals that can be prepared ahead or put in a crockpot during the day so everyone has a healthy meal. Our children are our future, let’s help them thrive!
Interested in learning how you can prepare healthy meals for your family? I’m here to help! Schedule a free 30-minute dietary consult today.
Nicole Carlson, RD, LD
Live Your LifeTM
Bringing Physical Therapy & Wellness to You!
Nicole is a registered and licensed dietitian in the state of Minnesota. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and completed her accredited dietetic internship through Iowa State University. Nicole has a passion for health, nutrition, and cooking. She enjoys experimenting with and sharing new recipes and cooking techniques with her clients. She is dedicated to educating her clients on how to be mindful of their habits and make healthy changes that will last a lifetime. Nicole currently works in clinical and private practice settings where she gained experience with diabetes management, heart-healthy cooking, weight loss or weight maintenance, food allergies and sensitives, chronic kidney disease and heart failure.
1“Eat Together, Eat Better | Nutrition Education Site | Washington State University.” Nutrition Education Site, Washington State Extension, Jan. 2013, nutrition.wsu.edu/ETEB/.