Make time for meals with familyFebruary is Heart Month, which includes the GoRed awareness campaign for women and heart disease. Last Saturday the community’s GoRed Committee held a “Food, Fun and Fitness” event at the Buffalo Mall. My display for that day emphasized the importance of family meals.
By: Eunice Sahr, NDSU Extension Service, The Jamestown Sun
February is Heart Month, which includes the GoRed awareness campaign for women and heart disease. Last Saturday the community’s GoRed Committee held a “Food, Fun and Fitness” event at the Buffalo Mall. My display for that day emphasized the importance of family meals.
How many meals has your whole family eaten together this week? Eating and talking together can help children be happier, healthier and more successful in school. Family mealtimes also can help make parenting easier. Plan and schedule more family mealtimes. Aim for at least five per week. If evenings seem too hectic, set aside time at breakfast or lunch.
Involve the family in planning fun, healthy meals. Let everyone choose a favorite menu. Get the kids involved in preparing tasty recipes. Children are able to manage different kitchen tasks at different ages. The meals don’t need to be fancy or entirely made-from-scratch — even ordering food or picking up something at the deli can work.
Involve every family member in mealtime conversations. Choose topics that are positive and allow everyone to talk. Enhance the quality of your family’s conversation around the table by creating a relaxed atmosphere. Turn off the TV and let the answering machine/caller ID take care of any phone calls.
Focus on laughter, learning and positive topics. Establish a few ground rules, such as no teasing, no criticizing, no rude comments and no talking while someone else is talking.
So what should we talk about? Here are a few conversation starters you might try:
* What made you smile (or laugh, or happy) today?
* What is the hardest thing you did today?
* Tell a joke you think will make other family members laugh.
* What was the most interesting news story you read, heard or watched today? Why?
* Name someone you admire and share what about them inspires you.
* Brainstorm vacation ideas or just ideas of what our family should plan to do in the future.
* Describe one of our family traditions you really like — and one new tradition that you would like us to add.
Positive mealtime experiences can lead to better communication among family members, improved performance at school, enhanced reading levels and better nutrition for children.
For more information on this topic, check out the following Web sites: www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart, www.americanheart.org/eathealthy, and www.family-mealtimes.org or contact Eunice Sahr, FCS Extension Agent, NDSU Extension Service/Stutsman County. She can be reached at 252-9030 or by e-mail at eunice.sahr@ ndsu.edu