The article is authored by Dietitian Sheela Seharawat. She is one of the youngest successful entrepreneurs of India and founder & chief mentor of Diet Clinic Health Care Pvt Ltd http://www.dietclinic.co.in.
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art,” – as quoted by 17th-century writer François de La Rochefoucau, and believe it or not, there are many faces of this beautiful art, that comes back as a benefit to us as good health.
The psychological advantages
- Helps in developing better relations: children and parents who regularly eat their dinner together share a stronger and healthier bond. They are more open and honest with each other and also respects each other’s feelings, emotions and problems. Parents get to know about the development of their kids better. Kids who ate dinner together with their parents felt more than they could easily share their problems and would get good and positive advise from their parents, whereas, kids who do not eat together are more isolated and feel stressed.
- Represents better communication, wellbeing and model manners: conversation during the mealtime helps to create a stronger bond with each other. Children and teenagers open up and communicate in a better manner with parents and elder. They become sharing and approachable. It also is a perfect opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills. It keeps the mood of all loving, light and relaxing.
- Helps in preventing destructive behavior: researches conducted on the subject shows that families who eat their dinner together, children’s and teens are less prone to smoking, drinking and illegal drug use as compared to families who eat less or never together. Even elderly children get scheduled and systematic.
- Higher academic performances: children and teens do better in schools and colleges if they tend to eat regularly with their parents and family.
- Saves money and gives a sense of identity: eating food outside regularly is not only unhealthy but is also costlier on the pocket. Cooking food at home and sharing dinner on a table together, gives every individual in the family a sense of identity. It helps in releasing family tensions and conflicts and develops a family tradition that remains forever.
The health benefits
- Dining together leads to better food choices: eating dinners together leads to a healthier dietary food pattern. Also eating homemade food together means more consumption of fruits, vegetables and meats rather than munching of fatty and sugary foods. Such diets at any time are higher key nutrients like calcium, vitamins, iron and fiber. Family dinners allow both nutrition and provision of healthy foods.
- Promotes portion control: an average homemade meal has 60% lesser calories than a restaurant meal. Assuming that when we dine in a restaurant we order more foods and tend to eat larger portions, which clearly indicates that eating together at home is much healthier.
- Works as a stress buster: in the demanding job and lifestyle scenario, finding time to eat regularly with the family relieves you of a lot of tension and feeling less stressed. It also helps working parents to have family time together, thus reducing the stresses and tensions that accumulate from long hours at the office.
- A great chance to explore new foods: family meals have proven to provide with the opportunity to expose children with a variety of food and expand their tastes. Introducing new food often provides with the benefits for kids for adaptability and get more nutrition from what they eat. Families that eat together generally eat more nutritiously and children are less likely to be overweight.
Some helpful mealtime suggestions to make every dinner with family more and more interesting:
- Try to experiment with self-made recipes and fun food.
- Remodel old recipes with healthier additions.
- Have a theme for every dinner – Italian, Punjabi, Bengali, Rajasthani etc.
- Understands everyone’s favorites and rotate them occasionally so that all favorites come at one place.
- Whenever possible involve – cook as a family and try to include everyone in the preparation process.
- Always try to create your own recipes – this will allow children to be proud of certain dishes that only his/her mother can make.
Family dinner might need some effort in its planning, but the benefits in psychological and physical health to you and your family are more than worth it.