Hello Sno-King Families,
As a professional in the food world, I love sharing the incredible benefits of family meals.
Here is what the research says:
• Better academic performance
• Improved mental health and self-esteem
• Reduced risk of dieting behaviours and development of eating disorders
• Greater resilience
• Reduced risk of teen pregnancy and substance use
• Improved markers for physical health
If I were asked to choose one nutrition-related habit for families to build, it would be more family meals together. While the nutrients play a role in overall health, it is the human connection established at family meals that matters most! However, we all know that family meals are not always easy and, in fact, are sometimes outright stressful.
Here are a handful of reasons that family meals can be difficult:
• Working long hours that leave little time or energy for food preparation or planning
• Hectic family schedules with everyone headed a million different directions
• Kids complaining about or simply not eating the food you’ve made
• Diet culture and food trends that provide us with all sorts of guilt about what we should be eating and feeding our kids
• Limited resources. Many families do not have adequate resources to prepare and sit down to eat balanced family meals
The list goes on. Perhaps you found what works for you and your family, but if you feel like you can’t catch a break I am sharing my top suggestions below that may help you combat some of the mayhem of family meals:
• Focus on the connection with one another. The greatest and most positive impact will be made around sharing and conversing rather than stressing and pressuring about what is on the table.
• Be flexible about what is served. It is well okay that a bagged salad, a takeout pizza and a side of fruit is a weeknight stable for your household. There is zero prep, little clean up and everyone is fed and satisfied.
• While this may seem like a good idea at the dinner table, try to avoid lecturing your children about nutrition and pressuring them to eat. The harder you pressure them to eat their greens and drink their milk, the harder they will push back. Instead, try reminiscing about past experiences you’ve shared with them, asking open-ended question or taking turns telling stories.
I hope this helps you enjoy more quality time with your family around meals!
Carlee Toews, MS RDN, Sno-King Nutritionist