Family Meals


 
Family meals are a great time to eat healthy foods. Studies have shown that families that eat together often make healthier food choices. By eating together as a family, parents show their children that making good food choices is important. Role modeling good behavior like this sets the stage for children to watch and learn, making them more likely to eat healthfully, too.

We're Too Busy
Many families find that their calendars fill up quickly. Does that sound familiar? You might not be able to eat every meal together as a family, but do eat as many meals together as you can. Consider scheduling some family meals throughout the week. Adding planned family meals to your calendar just like any other family event may make it easier to stick to the schedule.  And if the work week is simply too hectic, then look ahead to your weekend and find some opportunities to eat together. Lunch and a walk on Saturday? Brunch on Sunday? Find what works for your own family.

I Don't Have Time to Cook a Fancy Meal
The meal you eat together doesn’t need to be fancy. How about taco night, where everyone fixes their own taco with bowls of ingredients you set out?  Let the children help by tearing lettuce and filling bowls with their
favorite toppings (cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, etc.) Soup Night with a big slow-cooker full of hearty soup can be the main dish. Save your “fancy meal” for a day when you have plenty of time and helpers!

Does Eating Out Count?
Making meals at home is usually cheaper and healthier than eating out, but if you run out of time and need to eat out together, make the most of it! Use that time to talk about what food choices everyone made and keep making healthy choices (water or low-fat milk instead of soda, skipping dessert, etc).

We're Eating Together, But Now What?
Turn off all electronics if possible! Don’t answer any phones, turn the TV off, and make sure everyone participates in screen free time. Use family meal time as the time when you catch up on each others lives—what was the best thing that happened at school today? Talk about what the children did at recess. What did the children have at school for breakfast and/or lunch? Use family meal time as “together time” and keep it light and happy. Serious discussions can be saved for another time.

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program (SNAP), contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall