Importance of Family Meals

Katie Hake
By: Katie Hake
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Summary


The family dinner is a staple in the home. Aside from getting that quality time, family dinners can have a direct impact on the health of family members....

With after school activities, sports, other meetings, and work, it can be challenging to get the whole family together for meal time. While it sounds easy, running through the drive thru may be more harmful than you think. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I work with bariatric patients to help them lose weight in preparation for surgery. In addition to being followed by a team, patients also receive individualized nutrition counseling post-operatively. We work together to identify barriers and solutions throughout their weight loss journey.

I also help people reach their health and fitness goals as a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. For me, it's a personal win to see my patients discover that eating healthy can be easy! We work together to find healthier alternatives to their favorite foods. I love being able to help people integrate nutrition, fitness, and wellness to create long lasting lifestyle changes.

Many of my patients struggle to eat healthier on their own, let alone the whole family. One strategy I suggest, is eating as a family, for several reasons...

  1. Improved dietary quality - The University of Minnesota found that family meals were associated with improved intake of vegetables, fruits, calcium-rich foods, grains, protein, iron, fiber, and other important vitamins. They were also associated with a decreased intake of soda.
  2. Prevention of overweight - Children are less likely to have disordered eating due to their healthier eating habits. Eating as a family can help children achieve a healthy weight by eating better. Parents may also act as role models for healthy eating.
  3. Enhanced language acquisition and academic performance - Studies show the family table discussion teaches children more vocabulary than just reading to them. For this reason, better readers also do better in all school subjects.
  4. Improved social skills and family unity - Family meals encourage family members to come together, communicate, and promote a sense of belonging. It can be a time for parents to ask questions, listen, and improve relationships overall.
  5. Reduction in risky behaviors - Children who eat meals with their parents are at decreased risk of smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, fighting, and becoming sexually active or suicidal.

In order to implement the idea of family meals, we must first make it a priority, plan ahead, and work to create a positive atmosphere for everyone. For more resources visit purdue.edu/hhs/cff

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Katie Hake

Katie Hake