The Importance of Family Mealtime
Two of the best ways to achieve healthier living are through nutrition and bonding with your tribe. Nourishing your body and soul with healthy foods and genuine human connections significantly improves your life. You become happier, healthier, stronger and more fulfilled. You might even live longer. They’re that important!
So any opportunity to bring together the food and people you love most is one you shouldn’t miss.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate this into my own life is through family mealtime. This might seem like an ancient concept in today’s rushed and hectic world, but I think everyone can benefit from making the effort. And it can be done.
I was raised by parents who strongly believed that sharing time around the dinner table was an important part of our family dynamic. Decades later, the time spent preparing and eating meals together remain some of my favorite memories.
My wife, Kali, and I share this belief and are teaching our three children the joy and importance of family mealtime. There are few things I love more than making these new memories together.
Our Sunday tradition is healthy omelets with Nest Fresh eggs loaded with fresh vegetables. We blast music, dance, sing, make a bit of a mess and bond!
We all pitch in. Each of us partakes in the cooking and the cleaning up. We sit around the table as a family and enjoy conversation, laughter and eating a healthy meal.
There are times when Kali and I are rushed and it would be much easier to do the cooking ourselves – or just call for take-out. But we don’t want to miss out on these special moments … these opportunities to watch our children learn and grow and become more independent.
Mealtime is about more than food.
Experts say that one of the most important things you can do for your health is to cook at home. Involving your children is an effective way to start a conversation about health and nutrition and fosters good habits that will have life-long benefits.
Children who are involved in family mealtimes may be:
- 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating
- 24% more likely to eat healthier foods
- 12% less likely to be overweight
It gets even better. The process of preparing and sharing a meal sharpens important developmental skills including comprehension (reading and understanding recipes), communication (talking to parents and siblings in a relaxed, fun atmosphere), math (measuring ingredients, fractions), motor skills (great developmental opportunity for younger children), life skills (learning to cook at a young age makes for an easier transition into an independent adult), self-confidence (contributing to “adult” responsibilities) and open-mindedness (cooking is universal to all genders and cultures).
Start your own family mealtime tradition.
One of the most common times that children and parents communicate is when sitting around the dining table, so encourage open communication by eliminating distractions. Turn off the TV and silence the cell phones. You’ll be able to engage and connect more deeply.
I know it’s never easy. It would be so much easier to let our children sit in the living room playing video games or watching TV. But our goal is to instill good habits and teach them life skills that they will carry throughout their lives and eventually pass on to their own families.
I love spending time with my tribe in our kitchen. It’s always one of my favorite moments of the day. Despite spills, messes and the occasional burnt finger, this time together is priceless. We work together, clean together and feast together. My parents taught me the importance of a connected family. Their dedication to our tribe not only provided me with some of my favorite experiences, but prepared me to instill those same values in my children. Hopefully, Kali and I are providing them with a tradition that they will cherish forever.
Make healthy living a part of every day.
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
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- Get creative. Vote on a healthy recipe and then prepare and eat the meal … you guessed it … together. You’ll brush up on your teamwork skills while making your health a priority.
- Unplug. Designate mealtime as “technology free” time when phones and laptops are turned off. Use that time to focus on each other. Unplugging gets rid of distractions and allows you to connect and bond more deeply.
- Dance! Turn up the radio, blast your favorite tunes and let loose! It’s one my family’s favorite things to do together while we’re cooking, and you’ll love it too. When your walls are down, you’re more open to connecting on a deeper level.