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When was the last time your family enjoyed a meal together?

Research shows that eating as a family has great benefits for children and teens as well as parents. Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for family bonding, planning and learning from one another. It’s a chance to share news of the day and identify any problems that may be developing.

Family mealtime is also a great time to model appropriate table manners and social skills. Leading by example is the most important thing you can do for your child.

Encourage your children to try new foods. Introduce something new along with some old favorites. It may take a few attempts before the food is accepted, but it’s important because it expands your child’s knowledge and experience.

In a survey of 2,000 high school seniors by Lou Harris and Associates, children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Meals prepared at home are usually more nutritious and healthier than those eaten out. Meals purchased away from home also cost more than meals prepared at home.

According to Becky Hand, a licensed and registered Dietician1, research shows that frequent family dinners are associated with lower rates of drinking, smoking and drugs in pre-teens and teenagers.

Eating together can help children learn to be more self-sufficient as well, if they’re involved in the planning and preparing of the meal. This teaches them basic cooking skills, food preparation, menu planning, and grocery shopping. If everyone is involved, it makes lasting memories and positive family interaction.