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Q: Why is it so important to eat together as a family?

Posted September 03, 2014 in Advice Column, Ames

A: According to The Family Dinner Project®, researchers have been looking into the benefits of eating together as a family for more than 15 years and have confirmed that sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. In fact, regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and better self-esteem — not to mention lower rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents.

Meals do not need to be difficult to prepare. Planning ahead is key. Take inventory of your pantry and fridge and see what you already have on hand. Check your local grocery store ads to see if there are additional food items you can purchase on sale to complement the items you already have on hand to complete your family meals. This will help save you time and money. Write your meal plan in your calendar or on a chalkboard to display for the family so everyone knows what is being served throughout the week.

Mealtime together as a family can be stressful, but if you keep in mind eating together as a family can be fun and a way for the family to reconnect, the stress will melt away and your family will learn to enjoy mealtime together.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice. Nicole Arnold represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert working throughout the community to promote healthy eating and nutrition. She is a registered and licensed dietitian, ACE certified personal trainer and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Information provided by Nicole Arnold, RD, LD, Hy-Vee, 3800 Lincoln Way, 515-292-5543.

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