By Assoc Prof Dr Norimah A. Karim, Nutritionist
Sitting down for a family dinner means more than just time spent on good nutrition; it can also provide real quality time for the entire family. What it brings about is a happy family as well as better eating habits for your young ones.
However, despite the obvious importance of family mealtimes, more and more families find themselves pressed for time to do this important ritual, especially working parents. In addition, we may unintentionally forget to teach our child the proper way of eating, focusing too much instead on the right things to eat. It is only during these eating together times that you can teach your child all about healthy eating as well as appropriate table manners.
Bringing The Family Together
Want to begin incorporating this routine in your family? Then, take note of these pointers:
• Set the right example
The important thing to remember is that your child models your behaviour. If you rush through mealtimes, or are picky or do not care about what goes on the dinner table, your child is likely to mimic your behaviour.
• Send the right message
Adopting a healthy attitude towards food will instill good eating habits in your child. Don’t constantly announce that you are on a diet and refuse to eat; this is not how you want your child to turn out to be when he or she grows older.
• Teach your child
Eat and serve sensible portion sizes to give your child a good idea on what’s proper eating. Keep a positive attitude will perceive it as something important and necessary in his or her life.
• Remove all distractions
To make sure you benefit from this time together, keep it dynamic and fun. Turn off the television and even your mobile phone if possible.
• Get your child involved
Have your child help you prepare the meal, set the table, serve the dishes, and clear the table later. This way, your child will feel the ownership in the outcome of the meal, and feel proud with his or her involvement.
Why Eating Together is a Good Idea
Children who have more family mealtimes are more likely to pick fresh fruits as a snack as well as other important nutrients from vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods.
Teens who spent more time eating with their families show lower rates of engaging in vices.
Instill Good Family Vibes
Mealtimes are often rushed through because of deadlines, meetings and more. This way, your child won’t enjoy family mealtimes at all. During family mealtimes, make sure the entire family sits together to eat to reap the most out of the situation.
A Great Time Together
Keep conversations light-hearted during family mealtimes and you are guaranteed a good time always.
In a Harvard study published in the Archives of lescent Medicintake as well. They are also at a lower risk for unhealthy weight control practices and substance abuse. On top of that, families that eat together almost on a daily basis consume higher amounts of important nutrients such as calcium, fibre, iron, vitamins B6 and B12, C and E, while consuming less overall fat, maintaining a healthy lifestyle.