Adolescents who eat regularly with their family members develop healthier eating habits, concludes a latest study - carried out by School of Public Health, University of Minnesota researchers - that examined the association between the regular family meals and the development of good eating habits in adolescents.
The investigators questioned 303 males and 374 female adolescents about their eating habits when they were 12 and 13 years old and then again 5 years later.
The findings demonstrated that those who had regular family meals, defined as five or more meals together per week, were more likely to eat healthy later on.
These healthy meals included consuming breakfast, vegetables, calcium-rich food, dietary fiber, and several nutrients including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.
The findings further showed that sixty percent of participants had regular family meals during early adolescence compared to thirty percent during middle adolescence, a finding suggesting that having regular family meals during the transition from early to middle adolescence positively impacts the development of healthful eating behaviors for youth
But making family meals happen can be a big challenge, so try to:
- Choose a time when everyone can be there
- Remove the barriers (like no utensils, recipes, spices…etc)
Prepare and involve everyone
- Kids can put the plates on the tables, fold the napkins, and be a "taster"
- Teens can be assigned to a night cook with you as a helper
- Wait until everyone is seated
- Create a moment of calm before the meal begins
- Enjoy being together as a family and give a chance for everyone to decompress from the day
- Model good table manners (staying seated, passing items instead of grabbing them, not talking with your mouth full), but keep the discipline at a minimum. The focus should remain on getting your kids nurtured, connected, and part of the family.
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Al Sheikh Zayed