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Family Meals

Family Meals: Overview

Family meals provide the perfect opportunity for nurturing children’s social skills and food awareness from a young age: They happen every day, and parents and children can sit together without other distractions. Sitting at a table can help with conversation, although a table is not necessary for a family meal.

Frequency of family meals has been found to be associated with healthier dietary, weight, social and academic outcomes for children. This is because family mealtimes offer an ideal setting for families to connect with one another. Children and caregivers who engage in family mealtimes report using them as an opportunity to bond and interact with each other. Mealtimes also create opportunities for children to learn important information about what foods are good to eat by watching and interacting with their caregivers. Research shows that children’s diets tend to resemble those of their caregivers. Through shared food interactions with children, caregivers pass on their beliefs and values about food.

Researchers have found that family meals happen more regularly in less chaotic households and in families who have better relationships. Regular disagreements and fighting are disruptive to holding family meals, and are associated with less positive family mealtimes when they do occur. Distractions, such as televisions and phones, are also associated with less positive mealtimes. Thus, it is important that family mealtimes are positive and free of distractions in order to obtain their full benefits.

Nutrition Educator Training

Read the Scenario at the top of this page.

Then read through the materials on Family Meals: Overview, Application, and Tips.

Note the Additional Resources (but you do not need to read them all at this time).

Please RIGHT CLICK the link below and select "open in a new window".

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