6 Reasons to Eat Together as a Family
Author of two top selling family eating books, Rebecca Wilson gives 6 top tips on why you should eat together as a family.
Sometimes it can feel so much easier to just cook for the kiddos and worry about yourself later. This works great on the odd occasion if time is super tight or us adults are having a special meal when the kids are in bed. However, long term you may find that this set up will leave you missing out on some of these amazing benefits which comes with enjoying food together as a family. I’ve listed some of my favourite reasons below.
1. Helps reduce fussy eating
Studies have shown that when our little ones see us enjoying a certain food, they are much more likely to give it a go. Our children naturally want to copy us and do what we do, so if we simply show them how much we are enjoy eating healthy food on a regular daily basis (leaving aside any verbal encouragement from us in this scenario). Over time, they may learn to understand that the food which is presented to them is to be eaten and enjoyed without too much encouragement, with any unsure refusal becoming less frequent.
2. Helps develops eating skills
In particular from the start of weaning, but all the way up into early childhood and beyond, when our children watch us eating they are learning. Learning how to physically pick up food, bring it to their mouth, eat, chew and swallow it. They then learn how to use cutlery independently by watching us leading by example, they learn table manners, what to do and not do around the table. And if you have an extra spare few moments, get your little ones in the kitchen with you when preparing the meal to really help instil a love for family cooking and eating.
3. Develops communication skills
By eating together around a family dining table, talking and communicating about your day, the food in front of you and anything that makes you happy, then your little one is learning the basics of vital communication skills which will set them up for life. When you sit down for a family meal, the phones are put away, the toys are no longer a distraction and the telly is switched off. This is the perfect environment for little ones to have your undivided attention, and vice versa, to talk and interact with one another, something which may get a little trickier at other times of the day, especially as the kids get older.
4. Means you only need to cook just once
As busy parent’s, reducing the number of tasks we need to do in the day is ideal, right? So by cooking just one meal which caters for the entire family, not only means that everyone is happy and fed much quicker, but you also don’t need to slave away in the kitchen cooking everyone separate meals. And the best part, us parent’s don’t get neglected too, it’s important that we don’t forget to feed ourselves healthy nutritious meals as well, so by cooking for us included too, it’s less likely that we skip meals and neglect our needs too.
5. Helps introduce a variety into little ones diet
When we cook meals which is suitable for not only our little ones, but for us too, it prompts us to cook a wide variety of foods – textures and flavours. Nobody wants to eat the same thing day in and day out. So when you cook often for all the family, there is more of an incentive to add more variety into our weekly menu. This in turn really helps to reduce fussy tendencies in our little ones, and helps ensure we’re all eating a varied balanced diet.
6. Gives us the gift of bonding moments
The best part, slowing down, taking 30 minutes out of our busy hectic schedules to enjoy each others company, without distractions to build those special family memories. I don’t know about you, but some of the best conversations I’ve had with my 4 year old have been around the dinner table, they’re only little for such a short time, enjoy it while it lasts.
So eating together is ideal, but this doesn’t mean that you need to slave away at the stove every day. Make it easy for yourself, stick to quick cook easy meals for mid week dinners, and weekend family feasts in between hectic family life.