Studies suggest that family meals play a key role in raising high-achieving, healthy and well-adjusted children, informs the Dairy Council of California. It says frequent family meals are linked with being successful in school.
A University of Illinois study found that children ages 7 – 11 who did well in school and on achievement tests generally spent large amounts of time eating meals with their families.
Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) also found that teens who ate with their families most often were more likely to get As and Bs in their classes.
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“From better grades to improved health, nutrition and social skills, family meals help children succeed in school and life,” said Tammy Anderson-Wise, director of Program Services at Dairy Council of California.
“Back-to-school is a great time to include family meals in your schedule. When families eat together and talk with children from a young age, they set a pattern for healthy habits with benefits that last a lifetime.”
The benefits of family meals extend beyond nutrition and academic achievement. Mealtime conversation promotes positive self-esteem in children and brings the family together.
Family meals also provide an opportunity for parents to engage children in the planning, preparation and enjoyment of food, which creates a lasting and positive relationship with food.
To help your child succeed in school and life with healthy family meals, Anderson-Wise offers the following tips:
- Make time for family meals by setting aside as many times a week to eat together as possible.
- Browse the Back-to-School 30-Minute Family Meals cookbook on MealsMatter.org for simple-to-prepare recipes.
- Include foods from all the food groups–milk, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats–in your family meals, and try new foods together.
- During family meal time, adults and children should try to avoid mobile phones and music devices and turn off the television.
- Use conversation starters and active listening skills to get children talking. Ask about what they are learning in school or about friends they’ve made.
To know more about family meals, you can visit www.mealsmatter.org.