Eating together will help your kids

March 06, 2012 By: Ed Category: Uncategorized

By Sharon Thompson — swthompson@herald-leader.com

Along with schoolchildren, it’s likely the family kitchen has been on vacation, too.

Cooking duties relax some in the summer because schedules are not as hectic. But now that school is starting again, it’s time to make sure family meals are planned in addition to extracurricular activities.

Studies continue to show the benefits, for children of all ages, of having a family mealtime. Better grades, more healthful eating habits, closer relationships to parents and siblings, ability to resist negative peer pressure, resilience in the face of life’s problems — all these are outcomes of simply sharing dinner on a regular basis, according to Miriam Weinstein, author of The Surprising Power of Family Meals.

The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, and research shows that eating more meals at home results in less obesity.

Turning off the TV also helps. People who watch television while eating tend to tune out their natural hunger and satiety cues, and that encourages overeating. Health tips

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these actions, which it says can positively affect weight in children and adolescents

■ Regularly eat family meals together.

■ Prepare foods at home as a family.

■ Eat five fruits and vegetables a day.

■ Get one hour of physical activity a day (it does not need to be all at once).

■ Limit screen time to less than two hours a day.

■ Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

■ Eat breakfast daily.

■ Switch to low-fat dairy products.

■ Limit fast food, take-out and eating out.

■ Eat a diet rich in calcium.

■ Eat a high-fiber diet.

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