Posts Tagged ‘ family meals ’

Read This Before You Have Dinner Tonight …

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Positive Family Meal Reduces Childhood ObesityWe’ve all heard about the benefits of a home-cooked meal (and likely bemoaned the amount of work and time that can take to produce), but a new study published this week in Pediatrics shows that when it comes to childhood obesity, what happens at the table may actually be more important than what’s on your child’s plate.

Researchers at  the University of Minnesota gave 120 families (about half with obese or overweight children and the other half with non-overweight children) iPads to record their meals for eight days, and they found that those families with non-overweight kids were more likely to have positive mealtime interactions.

These included what the study referred to as, “warmth, group enjoyment, and parental positive reinforcement,” while overweight children were more likely to experience a more negative mealtime experience such as “hostility, poor quality interactions, little communication and more controlling behavior from their parents,” TIME reports.

“I was surprised by how consistent the patterns were,” Jerica Berge, study co-author, told TIME. “Almost every single one of the emotional factors we coded were in the right direction, and there were really clear patterns in how much positive or negative interactions were associated with overweight and non overweight.”

The researchers also coded for a number of variables like where the meal took place (kitchen or dining room vs. family or bedroom), whether or not members of the family had some kind of screen, and also how long the meal lasted, among others. Through this they also found that for families with both obese and non-overweight children, mealtime is hardly a drawn out affair. Non-overweight children’s families typically sat down for an average of 18.2 minutes, while obese children’s families spent an average of 13.5 minutes.

It is important to note, however, that this study did not track exactly what families were eating at their meals—that will be their next study’s concentration, TIME reports. While we wait for those results, try out some of our own tried-and-true healthy dinner options for your family.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Photo of family eating dinner courtesy of Shutterstock.

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The Surprising Way to Help Teens Cope With Cyberbullying: Family Dinner!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Study Shows Family Dinners Can Help Teens Cope With CyberbullyingAlong with the health benefits of home-cooked cuisine, a new study shows that family dinners may help teens cope with the effects of cyberbullying.

“One in five adolescents experience cyberbullying,” Frank Elgar of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University said in a press release. “Many adolescents use social media, and online harassment and abuse are difficult for parents and educators to monitor, so it is critical to identify protective factors for youths who are exposed to cyberbullying.”

According to research published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this week, nearly 19 percent of the students involved in the study reported having experienced cyberbullying during the previous year. And while victims of cyberbullying have been shown to abuse drugs and alcohol as well as have an increased possibility of developing mental health problems, this study demonstrated that teens who were dealing with cyberbullying and who ate with their families on a regular basis benefited from the social support that goes hand in hand with dinner table conversation.

Of course, family dinners aren’t the only way you can help your child cope with cyberbullying. The research promotes any kind of family interaction, whether it’s eating breakfast together or talking on the drive in to school, can offer the support your child needs. And if you think your child is being cyberbullied follow our 18 tips to put a stop to cyberbullying.

And bring your family to the table with these family-friendly slow cooker recipes.

Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better

Photo of family at dinner courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Parents’ Sleep Tied to Kids’ Obesity Risk

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Parents of preschoolers who don’t get enough rest are more likely to have kids with sleep problems–and a higher likelihood of being overweight or obese.  More from HealthDay News on a new study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology:

“We viewed how long parents slept and how long children slept as part of a household routine and found that they really did go together,” study author Barbara Fiese, director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said in an university news release.

Researchers assessed the weight of 337 preschool children and their parents, as well as factors that could protect against overweight and obesity.

The protective factors assessed in parents included adequate sleep (more than seven hours a night) and family mealtime routine. The factors assessed in children included adequate sleep (10 or more hours a night), family mealtime routine, not having a television in the bedroom, and limiting screen time to less than two hours a day.

Getting adequate sleep was the only individual protective factor against overweight and obesity in children. Those who didn’t get enough sleep were more likely to be overweight/obese than those who followed at least three of the other protective routines on a regular basis.

The researchers also found that the number of hours a parent sleeps per night affects their children’s amount of sleep. This means that parents’ sleep habits could affect their children’s risk of being overweight/obese.

“Parents should make being well-rested a family value and a priority. Sleep routines in a family affect all the members of the household, not just children; we know that parents won’t get a good night’s sleep unless and until their preschool children are sleeping,” Fiese said.

Baby Sleep: Get the Facts
Baby Sleep: Get the Facts
Baby Sleep: Get the Facts

Image: Couple sleeping, via Shutterstock

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American Nutrition Improving at Home

Monday, January 20th, 2014

American families are eating more meals at home, and those meals are healthier, a  new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found.  The findings include that Americans are consuming fewer calories overall, family meals are becoming more common, and more people are paying attention to the quality of the food they buy. More from

You can thank the recession, but when the economy started to sour in 2007, Americans stopped eating at restaurants and started to cook more meals at home. And most families have been listening to the onslaught of advice about how to eat healthier, since those meals were also respectably nutritious. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, adults born from 1946 to 1985 who were asked about their diets from 2005 to 2010 consumed fewer calories and less cholesterol and unhealthy fats.

“It’s good news for us,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, in a press conference.

Concannon said that while meals at home still make up a minority of the average American’s diet, the trend is encouraging and hopefully represents the beginning of a shift in the way families eat.

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Screen Time at Mealtime May Be Bad for Families

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Teenagers who watch television or use electronic devices during family meals are more likely to experience problems ranging from poorer nutrition to impaired family communication, according to a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  More from Reuters:

Experts have suggested turning the TV off at mealtime for years. But with the advent of cell phones and other handheld devices, kids can bring all kinds of media with them to the table.

“The findings of this most recent paper showed that mealtime media use is common among families with adolescents but that setting rules around media use at meals may reduce media use among teens and have other positive benefits as well,” lead author Jayne A. Fulkerson told Reuters Health in an email.

Fulkerson is the director of the Center for Child and Family Health Promotion Research at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing in Minneapolis.

“Parents who are having family meals with media could choose to make some rules excluding media at mealtimes to spend more quality time with their children,” she said.

Fulkerson and her colleagues asked more than 1,800 parents how often their adolescent children watched TV, talked on the phone, texted, played games or listened to music with headphones during family meals.

They also asked parents if they set rules on media use at mealtime and whether they felt family meals were important. Children answered questions about how well their families communicated, including how often they talked about problems with their parents.

Two thirds of parents reported that their teens watched TV or movies during family meals at least some of the time. One quarter said the TV was on frequently.

Texting, talking on the phone, listening to music with headphones and using handheld games were less common. Between 18 and 28 percent of parents reported those activities happened at mealtime, according to findings published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Close to three quarters of parents said they set limits on mealtime media use.

Image: Family on cell phones at the dinner table, via Shutterstock

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Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better

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