Friday, July 29, 2011

Benefits of Family Dinners (and that after dinner walk around the block)

I am not sure why this post came out underlined.  I couldn't get rid of it so please ignore it!

We are all aware of the benefits of happy family mealtimes.  I have included  an article here that gives 6 reasons whey the family dinner is an essential family activity.  Why not add to that family time with an after dinner walk through the neighborhood.  A stroll after dinner gives parents and children time to observe their surroundings and enjoy each other's company.  It aids in digestion and will help adults and children get a better night's sleep.  Try it now that the sun is up longer and summer is a more leisurely time of year.  Make this a habit, you won't regret it.

Family Dinners Support Healthy Habits - Photo by User eyeliam, CC License

Many studies show that eating family dinners together is one of the most effective ways for parents to help their children do better in school and in life.
Research shows that the more often children eat with their parents, and the happier and more structured these mealtimes are, the better the children perform in a variety of life arenas.
Six Reaons Why Family Dinner is an Essential Family Activity
Children who take part in family dinner at least five times a week do better than other children in at least six important ways:
1. Children who Eat Family Dinners Eat More Healthy Foods, Fewer Junk Foods and Sodas
Children in families that eat dinner together eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods. They also drink fewer soft drinks, whose connection with obesity has been documented in numerous studies.
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2. Family Meals Create Stronger Connections between Children and Parents
A survey of 1,000 teens by the National Center Addiction and Drug Abuse at Columbia University found that nearly half thought dinnertime was the best time to talk to their parents about something important. More than 80% of the teens in the same survey said they preferred having dinner with their families to eating alone.
3. Children who Talk at the Table Build Larger Vocabularies
The Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development, a joint project between Harvard's Graduate School of Education and Clark University, found that the discussions that take place at the dinner table are important to children’s speech development. Lively discussions of current events or explanations make a bigger contribution to children’s vocabularies than just saying “Pass the peas.”
4. They Get Better Grades in School
Studies conducted at Columbia University also found that teens who ate regular frequent family dinners were 40% more likely to get A’s and B’s in school than teenagers whose families ate separately.
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5. They Develop Fewer Eating Disorders
Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that adolescents who reported that their families made family dinners a high priority and maintained a positive atmosphere at dinnertime were less likely to engage in self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, diet pills or diuretics.
One study found that for girls, eating 3-4 family meals per week cut the risk of extreme weight control behaviors in half, while families who ate together five or more times a week reduced the risk of eating disorders in their daughters by 66%. The positive effects were stronger for girls than for boys.
6. They Engage in Fewer Risky Behaviors
The University of Minnesota researchers also found that teens who had family dinners five or more times a week were 42% less likely to drink alcohol, 59% less likely to smoke cigarettes, and 66% less likely to try marijuana.
Even a Few Family Dinners a Week Pay Off
Making the effort to carve out even one or two evenings a week for family mealtime pays off in the form of better outcomes for children. "Kids who eat more family dinners do better than those who eat a few,” says Miriam Weinstein of the National Center Addiction and Drug Abuse. “Kids who share a few dinners weekly do better than the ones who have none at all."

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