Helping parents become better feeders,
so they raise great eaters!

by Your Child Nutrition Expert Jill Castle

Why Weight #10: The Magic of Family Meals

March 10, 2010 | In: Child Nutrition, Feeding, Feeding Kids, Parenting, Weight Management

Clang, Clang, Clang! 

My great-grandmother had a red bell.  And she used it to announce a very important event: Dinnertime.  A time when everyone in the family joined together, gathered around the table, and ate.  Dinnertime was a priority–all work stopped, after-school activities were over, and the phone and TV were silenced.  The family gathered and discussed the events of their day.  It was a time, in modern terms, to download, to debrief, to get centered and figure things out.  Supportive therapy?  Challenge sessions?  Debunking untruths?  Confirming beliefs?  Mealtimes were therapeutic.  Healthy and good for you in more ways than one.

Magic is possible when families gather at the meal table.  Family meals have been shown to be a powerful influence on many facets of childhood–growth, development, social adjustment, behavior, eating habits, and body weight.  Not only do family meals have a positive effect on eating healthier, they also help children maintain a healthy weight.

But that’s not all!  Read on  for the magic of family meals

Attachment:  Children of families that eat meals together feel more supported, secure, and safe.

Behavior: Family meals are a great way to teach manners, promote communication, and prevent behavioral problems.

Reciprocity:  Conversation, both talking and listening, may be more important than what is actually served or where your family eats.

Adjustment: Children who eat with their families frequently show better social skills and ability to navigate social situations.

Confidence:  Family meals promote trust between child and parent, a key element in nurturing healthy eating.

Academics:  More family meals per week = better grades.

Development:  Healthy and positive family meals promote a healthy weight and normal growth in children.

Acquisition:  Manners are learned at the meal table–sitting down frequently allows ample teaching time and helps your child learn their manners.

Breakfast:  Any meal will do!  Dinner isn’t the only opportunity for a family meal.

Relationship: A positive relationship with food and eating is cultivated at the meal table.  This is a life-long attitude, belief, and flexibility with food that begins early.

Achievement:  The benefits of family meals are realized with 4-5 meals per week

ABRACADABRA!  It’s magical.  Why Weight?


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8 Responses to Why Weight #10: The Magic of Family Meals

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TwinToddlersDad

March 13th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

You are so right! We don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy family time on the table. Every day, and every meal is an opportunity.

Recently, we have started “experimenting” with our twins! We spin all kinds of fancy, imaginative stories to grab their interest and attention on the table. My son loves trains – so one of my favorite opening lines is “do you want to know what happened to me at work today? Santa Fe (one of his favorite engines) came to see me…”. From there, the story takes on pretty much a random direction! And to get my daughter interested, I add “…and he brought along Cinderally with him”!

Family meals, as you point out, are more than food and nutrition. They offer us a chance to build a strong foundation not only for healthy eating habits but also for keeping the family together.

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PS3 Slim

March 22nd, 2010 at 8:41 am

Great blog layout, just found it in yahoo.

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Healthy Weight Loss Takes Time & The Garden-Planting Analogy « Just The Right Byte

December 30th, 2010 at 8:39 am

[...] your child, using positive attitudes and actions that include role modeling, daily movement, and meal routines that support healthy [...]

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Eating Disorders, Part 3: The Parent’s Role in Preventing Eating Disorders « Just The Right Byte

February 4th, 2011 at 6:27 am

[...] meals matter.  Regular family meals are associated with preventing disordered eating and promote healthier body weight, less behavioral [...]

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The 7 Habits of Healthy Kids « Just The Right Byte

June 1st, 2011 at 6:01 am

[...] 5 family meals weekly.  Eating meals together gives you a chance to help your child develop a healthy attitude [...]

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  3 Habits You Can Start Today to Prevent Your Preschooler from Becoming Too Heavy by Just the Right Byte

March 21st, 2012 at 9:52 am

[...] Meals: Aim for 6-7 meals together each week. As I discussed here, family meals have a positive impact on food choice, self-regulation of eating and family bonding. [...]

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  8 Ways to Improve Manners at Meals by Just the Right Byte

November 20th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

[...] Have family meals at home as often as possible.  The more your child is exposed to eating with others at the dinner table, the more polished their manners will be.  Do what you can–try to hit 3-5 family meals each week– but if that’s not possible, one family meal per week is better than none! [...]

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  13 Easy Family Nutrition Tips for 2013 by Just the Right Byte

January 2nd, 2013 at 12:27 pm

[...] even when it feels like an unlikely occasion—like breakfast or snack time. Eating together and family meals have a number of health [...]

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