Many pediatricians and nutritionists advise eating as a family, not only preparing food with our children but also sitting at the table and eating with them. Find out what its advantages are.
With the stressful life we lead and the speed of doing things, in many families, meals are different and different at the same time, for each member of the family. Eating as a family provides a series of good eating and social habits that offer tools to help children and adolescents eat better and respect good practices.
That family meals are more than eating food at the same time and have very important repercussions, both in health, in education and in the behavior of children and adolescents. And this beyond the nutritional advantages.
The benefits of eating as a family with our children
Eating at least three family meals each week is associated with having healthy children, according to a study. Based on this, eating 3 or more meals a week as a family reduces the probability that children are overweight by 12%.
There should not be excessive control, because we can produce the opposite effect, but we can establish healthy eating patterns. That is why the study also concluded that those families who did it together, at least 3 times a week, noticed a 20% drop in the choice of foods to eat unhealthy.
The meeting invites everyone to be more participatory, fostering communication between parents and elders. Although it is not usually usual, it is also very favorable not only that parents and children eat together, but also grandparents, in order to achieve more open communication and feel much more of family belonging.
Emotional and nurturing experiences
These meals are usually the basis for making the memories of eating that are formed in childhood and then last in life. This is the sum of sensory experiences that intervene in food, touch and taste, and this determines, in some way, our food choices.
Influences on the mental health of minors
The results of one study indicated that the children of families who normally ate together had a higher level of self-esteem, related better with their peers and had a greater capacity for tolerance in the face of adversity. What’s more, the study found that they also had fewer mental health problems than their peers.
Prevent eating problems
When everyone eats together, it is much easier to detect when there is a serious health and food problem. We see what our children eat or not and we understand if they may be going through a disorder, and even, with dialogue, recognize if they have other problems, even if they are not food-related.
Tips for a good family meal
Being with a family is not enough for the aforementioned advantages to take place. It is necessary to establish a series of good habits and surround yourself with the best environment for children to eat and feel well.
For example, a large part of pediatricians agree that it is better to eat with the television turned off, not look at the cell phone, or talk on the phone, that is, that there is a maximum concentration in food and in those people who we have at our disposal. Around. It is also recommended to eat meals with enough fruits and vegetables, leaving behind sugars and fats.
Although each family is different and each child too, with family gatherings harmony is sought, so it is better not to force the child to finish the whole plate, he will have enough when it is full, always within certain rules to follow.
Nor is it good to reward the child when he finishes the plate or eats something that is not to his liking, it is okay to acknowledge this fact, but not give him awards every time he finishes something new. Children get used to always asking for their prize, thus creating a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape.
Before the family meal, it is good that the child can also do the dishes, help in the kitchen, see raw food, its preparation and set and remove the table as something more of the family routine.