Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, but the most important reservation you make this month should be at the family dinner table. And, parents, you’ll fall madly in love with the benefits.
By connecting over a well-rounded meal at least three times a week, you’re not only strengthening your family bonds, chances are you’re also improving your child’s school performance and health.
According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, children who eat dinner with their families fewer than three times weekly score lower on tests than kids who eat family dinners three or more times. What’s more, families who eat together have a higher intake of essential nutrients.
Blue Zones Project® Founder and National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner experienced the benefits of a “Family First” mentality while studying Blue Zones® – areas in the world where people live the longest. In fact, putting loved ones first was so ingrained in these cultures that he identified it as one of the nine keys to longevity (Power 9®) and determined that strengthening family ties can tack on six years of life expectancy.
Now that’s a relationship worth pursuing...
Need help instituting family dinner nights? Below are some tips to get you started.
· It’s a date. Setting regular times and days for family meals helps set a precedent and a routine.
· Cook quickly, eat slowly. While a nourishing meal can be prepared quickly, be sure to maximize your family’s mealtime experience by taking time to laugh, talk and savor your food.
· Shop and cook together. Children will get more enjoyment from meals they help prepare. Spending time together in the kitchen is a great way for families to connect.
· Stay off the grid. Make family dinners a tech-free zone. This means turning off TVs, cellphones, iPods, etc.
For more information on “Family First” or Blue Zones Project, visit www.bchd.org/bzp.