Eat together as a family!
Dinner time at my house, has not always been my favorite part of the day. When my children were younger, it felt more like managing a three-ringed circus than a time to enjoy our food and each other’s company. As the kids have gotten older, dinner time has become one of my favorite times of day. I love the time to sit and be together as a family, and have time to laugh, talk, joke, and hear all about everyone’s days. I am now grateful I kept family dinner time a priority through the chaos years to be able to enjoy the time together now. Eating together as a family has numerous psychosocial benefits, but did you know that eating together as a family has nutritional benefits as well?
First, employing the first three tips we’ve discussed, having family meal time at home allows you to plan nutrient dense meals, in which you have employed your new cooking skills to produce a delicious dish! But even if you’ve grabbed take out, sitting down at a table to eat as a family has benefits.
When we sit down to eat as a family, we naturally slow down our eating. One way to eat less at a meal is to slow down the speed at which you eat. Slowly eating allows us time to truly taste our food, which signals to our brain that we are eating. As we slow our eating, we feel more satisfied and fuller with less food – as slowing down allows our brain and stomach time to communicate. How many times have you been eating on the run, scarfed down some food, and 15 min later feel stuffed and sick to your stomach? Eating quickly, distractedly, or mindlessly tends to increase the volume of food we eat, thus increasing our calories, and the feeling of being uncomfortably full.
But how do you make family meal time a success?
- Make it a priority. Even on busy nights, make meal time a priority. Plan ahead. Use that crock pot to have meals ready on nights when there is one thing after another to allow for time for everyone to sit down together. Let your family know the plan. Getting buy in helps the success rate go up!
- Remove distractions. We have a rule at our table. NO TECH AT THE TABLE. That means no screens for people to disappear into. We want to be able to stare deeply into each other’s eyes…or at least see them. Removing distractions allows us to be present in the moment and actually taste the food. Being present in the moment also allows us to pay attention to our physical cues, like that of feeling satisfied; allowing us to stop eating before feeling full.
- Eat slowly. Talk lots. Not sure what to talk about? Play get to know you games. A family favorite at our house is the game “I’ve Never”. Someone says something they’ve never done, and then the rest of the family gets to talk about whether or not they have done that thing. It makes for great conversation, lots of laughter, and learning things about each other we might not have ever known. Plus talking and laughing naturally slows down how fast you can shovel food into your face. Making it a win/win!
I hope that over National Nutrition Month you have been able to find one thing you can do to improve your relationship with nutrition. Remember to eat a variety of nutritious food every day, make a meal plan, learn new skills to make yummy meals, and eat together as a family!
Call 712-722-1700 to make an appointment with one of our Promise providers to get a referral to see one of our Promise Health Coaches today!