Holiday Mealtime

During the holiday season, don’t forget to make time for family meals. Children who often eat dinner with their families are more likely to do well in school, have positive peer relationships, and resist the harmful effects of substance abuse. In addition, regular family mealtime improves communication and nutrition, builds stronger family bonds, and is an opportunity for parents to teach important skills to their children. Furthermore, meals prepared at home are often less expensive and more nutrient rich.

Here are ways to enjoy family mealtime during busy holiday schedules:

  • Make family mealtime a priority. Set aside specific times of the week when family members will eat together.Family eating
  • Be creative and flexible about when and where you eat. Make the most of opportunities instead of worrying about following a strict timetable.
  • Make mealtime pleasant. Children learn social skills from listening and watching their parents. Parents can set a positive tone for family meals and set a good example by listening and sharing.
  • Eliminate distractions. Turn off the electronic devices (cell phones, television, etc.). Commit to device-free meals on or during the week of December 3, 2018, by participating in the initiative “Dining In” for Healthy Families, from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
  • Keep meals simple and easy. Use a slow cooker to prepare a meal that can be ready to eat when the family is ready to eat.
  • Use family mealtime Conversation Cards.


Source: Adapted from PM 1842, Say “Yes” to Family Meals, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, March 2015

Take Time for Family Mealtime

With the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s still important to take time to eat meals with your family. When you have family meals together, you are making positive memories. And research shows many benefits of family mealtime.
Families are more likely to eat a nutritious meal when they eat together. Children who eat with their families are likely to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Research shows adolescents are also less likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs during their teen years if their family eats meals together regularly. Enjoying meals together enhances family communication and improves manners.
Enjoy meals with your family whether it’s around the kitchen table, at a restaurant where you can talk together, or spreading a blanket on the living room floor for an indoor picnic. The important factor is to eat together and share conversation.
Don’t know what to talk about when you’re eating together?  Make a list of questions to get the conversation flowing. Order Conversation Cards (EDC 0248) online or pick up a set at your local ISU Extension Office.

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