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Family Meals: The Key to Mentally Healthy Kids

Posted by Terra's Kitchen on Fri, Jun 17, '16

Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs, but we know that raising kids is tough. Every day feels like a circus as you juggle piled dishes, the kids' demands, work responsibilities and finding a rare moment to yourself. There is an easier way - and it only takes 15 minutes a day! Share a meal with your family at least three days a week.

If you're already feeling overwhelmed, don't fret. When we give our family our full attention, if even just for a short time, they leave feeling valued and, consequently, demand it less. What's more, it has a tremendous benefit to your child's mental and physical health - and research validates it! Children who eat regular meals with their family are more successful in school, have better social skills, and have a lower risk of depression and obesity.*

The key here isn't in preparing a gourmet meal, it's in the interpersonal connections shared. Here are some easy ways to plan regular family meals in your home:

Start out small! Pick 1-2 nights a week that are less hectic (such as Fridays and Sundays)

  • Don’t feel you have to prepare an elaborate meal. Try a DIY meal delivery service or mix things up by having breakfast for dinner. No matter what is on the table, you’re spending quality time together.
  • Involve the kids in meal planning and prep.
  • Do weekly meal planning before your grocery store trips.
  • Double up dinner. Double the recipe for care-free leftovers.
  • Make setting up and cleaning part of the family experience.
  • Have each family member come with a table topic! Fun questions include: What one special talent would you like to have? What is your favorite holiday and why? If the snow fell in any flavor, what would you want it to be? Which household chores do you like to do and which do you try to avoid?

Family mealtime is one of the best predictors for a healthy and happy future for your child. When you give your child the safe, stable and nurturing relationship they crave (and need!), it frees up your time to take a much-needed breather. So give it a try next week - and let us know how it goes!



Prepared by The Family Tree, Maryland’s leading child abuse and neglect prevention organization, providing the education and support parents need to raise healthy, productive children.

*Fishel, Anne (2015, January 12). The most important thing you can do with your kids? Eat dinner with them. Retrieved from


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Topics: Food Philosophy