We have such busy lives nowadays that we often forget the basic manners that we were brought up with. We live in a modern world full of technology and TV dinners and it’s often tempting to save time by eating in front of the TV with our plates on our laps. However, all of us as parents know that this is not the ideal way to dine – it’s okay now and again as a special treat but we really should sit round the table as a family to eat together on a regular basis.
Researchers from the University of Leeds discovered that even one meal a week eaten at the table will help to improve the children’s diets. This is an important factor in making sure the kids get their recommended five a day servings of fruit and vegetables. With the shocking news that in the UK nearly two thirds of primary school children don’t eat the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended amount of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily, it’s time for us as parents to change our family’s eating habits.
It’s been revealed that children who eat a family meal at a table eat 1.5 more portions of fruit and vegetable per day so there’s never been a better reason for us to get off our backsides and dine in style with the family. Watching the way parents and older siblings eat and the variety of foods they eat is an important factor in teaching kids how to eat healthily. Kids whose parents don’t eat fruit and vegetables eat on average one portion per day of fruit and veg than kids whose parents regularly eat these foods. That means that in a week, they’re missing out on at least 7 portions – when you transform this into an annual figure, it can become scary.
We all want the best for our kids and that means teaching them healthy eating habits so that they grow up to be strong and healthy adults. Eating the recommended portions of fruit and vegetables is a key factor in avoiding childhood obesity – a growing problems in the UK, where it’s estimated that 10% of primary school children are obese.
It’s not just for health reasons that you should regularly dine at the table – it’s much easier to teach your child good manners and acceptable behaviour if you eat at the table. This means that when you dine out in a restaurant, your kids will be the ones who are well behaved, the envy of other parents whose offspring are running around, slurping and eating with their fingers. And when it comes to visiting grandparents (who have a more old fashioned idea of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour), you’ll be able to bask in the glory of how well mannered your kids are.
Dining together is also a great opportunity for family discussions and conversations. You can find out how each others’ days have been – this will ensure that your children talk to you more openly about their school, friends, their interests, etc. Promoting good conversation in this way will ensure that your kids grow up to be interesting adults who can form social relationships easily.
If your busy lives as parents make it difficult for you to all sit down to eat together on a daily basis, then start this new year with a plan to make sure that you dine en famille at least twice a week. It’s well worth the effort and will pay dividends for parents as well as children.