Every month, there are many holidays to celebrate and major events to bring awareness to. One of the lesser known events which occurs during the month of October is the “Eat Better, Eat Together” movement. This idea was developed by Washington State University Extension, and a few other partners, in order to encourage families to eat together, which in turn can provide many positive benefits.
When the family is preparing to eat together, a meal plan is likely the best option. Planning meals ahead of time usually means healthier meals. When planning, you are more likely to think about what you are going to be eating and choose foods from all five food groups to create a well-balanced meal. By doing this, you will also help to educate children on the food pyramid and hopefully encourage them to select healthier options at every meal.
Children and teens will also feel more invested in the family dynamics if they get to help plan the meals and put them on the table. Cooking together is a great way for everyone to learn the basics of this art and provide additional bonding experiences.
Eating together can also prevent weight problems and save you money. As the meals will be well thought out, they will avoid the fats and processed junk often found in fast food meals. Only buying the essentials for every dinner will save money in the process, and will typically create enough food that there will be leftovers, as well.
When the family gathers around the dinner table, it encourages open communication, better relationships, and family togetherness, which benefits everyone in the family. Kids will be more apt to open up, have better self esteem, and can even perform better in school according to research from the American College of Pediatricians. Dinner conversations foster a safe space for everyone to speak and to listen to one another.
It is clear to see that there are many benefits to eating a homemade meal, gathered together at the dinner table. It may take some time and work to get into the swing of meal planning and to coordinate everyone’s schedules, but the benefits are most definitely worth the effort for every member of the family.
To find out more about the Eat Better, Eat Together movement and learn how to incorporate this into your family dinner plans, check out WSU’s nutrition program and “8 Reasons to Make Time for Family Dinner”.