“While it’s easy to get swept up in the busyness of everyday life, it’s important to make family time a priority. The family that eats together stays together.”

-Rose Caiola

Quality time builds healthy bodies and minds

When it comes to things you can do for your children’s future, you may worry about getting them into the right school or ensuring they play sports that can win them scholarships. While these things are important, there’s something much closer to home that can make a huge difference in your child’s life. Eating family meals is probably one of the most important things you can do for your child to become both your own health hero and theirs.

Here are five reasons why family meals matter and how you can incorporate them into your family’s life.

1. Time to touch base

Sitting down and eating a meal together gives the whole family a time to touch base and catch up with one another. You can share about your day, discuss the week’s plan or talk about the ups and downs of life. Eating together gives your children a safe and comfortable place to talk about what’s going on or issues they may be having.

2. Keeps family a priority

When you make family a priority, kids remember how important they are in your busy life and that, no matter what, they always come first. Giving your children this confidence and security allows them to be able to communicate openly and come to you when there are problems.

3. Kids eat healthier

When family meals are made a priority, kids naturally eat healthier. These children tend to have more variety and real food in their diets and are less obese when compared to children who do not eat as a family. It also allows the whole family to slow down and eat with intention, unlike what you do when you eat in the car or in front of the television. There is also an increased amount of nutrients consumed and up to 60 percent fewer calories eaten per meal.

4. Less likely to suffer from depression

Children who eat meals sitting down with their family are less likely to be depressed or suffer from other mental health disorders. The bonding and open communication that occurs during family meals make it easier to identify problems as soon as they happen, giving you a platform in which they can be addressed. These kids are also less likely to use drugs and tend to have better overall academic performance than their peers.

5. It nourishes your family

From the food that’s put in your mouth to the time you’re spending together, family meal time nourishes both your physical health and your soul. You didn’t have children to simply haul them around and run from point A to point B. You wanted to be a parent, spend time together, and teach them the important things in life. Family meal time allows you to do just that.

Family mealtime tips:

  • Remember, family meals allow both you and your children the chance to relax, recharge and reconnect with one another.
  • Strive for at least five family meals per week.
  • Don’t limit yourself to dinners; family breakfasts and lunches can be equally rewarding.
  • If it always seems as if you’re crunched for time, cook meals ahead, and reheat them on the week nights.
  • When it comes to family meals, you must make them a priority, or they won’t happen.

This article originally appeared on AskDrNandi.com and is republished here with permission.

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