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Finding Time to Eat Together

February 11, 2014 by Andrea Godfreyson, Registered Dietitian

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What does meal time look like in your home?

When I was growing up, especially when the house was full of teenagers, we usually grabbed our own food and ate it alone in our rooms or ate quickly while rushing out the door.

Mealtimes at my friends' houses were different. I would sit at the table with their family, chow down on meatloaf or whatever was on offer and we would chat about school or current events.The benefits of eating together are now well recognized. They can include:

  • Better nutrition - eating more vegetables and fruit and drinking less sugary drinks.
  • Good mental health - better social adjustment for teens, lower risk of substance abuse.
  • Healthy weights - lower risk for overweight and obesity.
  • Better school performance - improved academics and increased vocabulary among preschoolers.

However, knowing the benefits and actually finding the time are two different things. Sometimes with long work schedules, school, extracurricular activities and other things, life can get in the way. How can we shift from running out the door with our food to sitting, eating and talking together?

Tips for Eating Together

  • The first step is finding a time that works for everyone. Luckily, it doesn't matter what meal you eat together. It could be breakfast or an evening snack, brunch together on Saturdays, or a meal out. Try starting with one meal a week and slowly working up to one meal (or snack) a day.
  • Some people find that getting all family members involved in meal preparation can be a good time saver. My closest friend in high school always had to make supper on Tuesdays. Her sisters were each responsible for another day of the week. This meant that the work of meal preparation was planned and shared and their family had more time to sit together.
  • Check out this fact sheet on Eating Together, Eating Better for more tips that might work in your home. When you do sit down together, if you find it is tough to get the conversation rolling, try these Let's Talk mealtime conversation cards. You may just learn something about each other you didn't know.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Recommended Resource:
Better Together BC

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