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Family Dinner: Do You Believe in Magic?

What "magic" does family dinner provide?
Posted at 1:19 PM, Sep 18, 2023

September is National Family Meals Month and Trish Brimhall, RDN, CD, CLE, says that's a great time to make "magic" happen!

Trish says family dinner can lower the risk of depression, anxiety and stress as well as lower the risk of high-risk behaviors including drugs and disordered eating.

When a family eats together, it's proven that kids have stronger self-worth and stronger relationships.

Trish says there's also better nutrition, eating patterns and skills.

But, how do you make family dinner magic happen? Trish offers these tips:

  • Planning – carving out time in the schedule, planning a menu with the family
  • Preparation – let kids help with the execution, table setting, cooking, and cleanup
  • Practice – be committed to consistency. 5-7 meals per week = most benefit

Even if families don't fit the traditional mold, you can make family dinner time work! Trish says you may have to be creative and have an earlier or later dinner, just find time to unplug and sit down together with some food.
Trish also says one parent at the table is better than no parent and the table. She says, "Yes, sitting at a table to focus on the eating and conversation is key. Family binge-watching doesn't provide the same magic."

Trish also says to baby-step your way into the practice. Going from 0-1 meal per week to 7 may be too overwhelming. Increase it by an extra meal every couple of weeks. Just keep at it.

Keep expectations low. Get rid of the picture in your head of a sitcom family from the 80s or 90s enjoying an ideal meal every night. That picture in your head will be the thief of joy when you discover the reality involves complaining, sulking, and less than 5-star-rated food.

Enjoy and take advantage of the time and circumstances you have right now.

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