Written by: Valerie Middleton, FNP
As we approach Thanksgiving it has me thinking about family time and meals. We often go out of our way to spend time with family and sit down to our Thanksgiving meal. What about day to day? Between long work hours, soccer practices, dancing, academics, and keeping up the house it can be very hard to find the time to sit down all together (even if “all together” is just two people) and eat a meal uninterrupted. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefit of eating meals together as a family. Adolescents in particular benefit from the act. Adolescents that eat a meal with at least one parent more days than not each week are less likely to do drugs, less likely to be depressed, less likely to have disordered eating and are more likely to share details of their lives. Adolescents also reported feeling closer to their parent(s). Even when the adolescents reported not enjoying meal times the benefits still existed in the studies.
So let this Turkey day be a new beginning for you and your family. Eat your Thanksgiving meal and talk about how important it is to you that it continues throughout the year. Make a plan to eat together. Pick the days that will work. Write it on a calendar. Get input from all family members so they feel involved. Make it fun! Maybe one day play a game after the meal. Maybe one week meals were too hard to organize so you come up with an alternative activity that is unplugged. It’s so tempting and easy to come home and grab a bite to eat while tuning out the world with T.V., Ipads, Phones, etc. It is convenient to stop by a drive through on your way home from basketball practice or work. Maybe changing this habit a few times a week will not only improve the life of your children but also your life too.