Sitting down together as a family to eat is an important factor in making healthy food choices, and one that is confirmed by research studies, said a nutrition expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
"Having a family meal can be good for the body and the soul," said Kristi King, registered dietitian at BCM and Texas Children’s Hospital.
King says that research indicates that:
- Children are less likely to become obese.
- Children being less likely to consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes and try illegal or prescription drugs.
- Children will have better grades in school.
- Parents are more likely to hear about any serious problems that might be occurring in a child’s life.
King recommends several steps to starting family meals:
- Set a goal – start with twice-a-week family meals.
- Have everyone help out – children can set the table, help plan the meal and help cook the meal.
- Make the meal conversation enjoyable and ask questions.
- Make a rule that no phones are allowed at the table.
She also recommends that if children have too many after-school activities to make the family meal happen at dinnertime, consider turning breakfast into family meal time.