Early Post for Week Starting October 22- FAMILY DINNER

I hope I don't confuse anyone posting the challenge for next week early but I will be traveling without internet this weekend so wanted to post it before leaving town.

The information that follows is from Purdue University Center for Families’

Family Meals spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S

S = Smarter Children:
·       Improved vocabularies and reading skills
A study by Dr. Catherine Snow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, followed 65 families over 15 years, looking at how mealtime conversations play a critical role in language acquisition in young children. The conversations that occur around the family table teach children more vocabulary and forms of discourse than they learn when you read to them. Improved vocabularies lead to better readers. Better readers do better in all school subjects.
·       Improved achievement test scores
A University of Illinois study of 120 boys and girls age 7 – 11 found that children who did well in school and on achievement tests were those who generally spent large amounts of time eating meals with their families.
·       Greater academic achievement
A Reader’s Digest survey of more than 2,000 high-school seniors compared academic achievement with family characteristics. Eating meals with their family was a stronger predictor of academic success than whether they lived with one or both parents. Share that with families who may not have money or education or a spouse, but do have it in their power to eat with their kids!
·       Higher grades
Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), and others, has found a striking relationship between frequency of family meals and grades. In 2003, the percent of teens who got A’s was 20% of those who ate with their families 5 or more times per week compared to only 12% of those who ate with their families 2 or less times per week.
U = Unlikely to smoke, drink, or take drugs:
In a research project coordinated by Dr. Blake Bowden of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, 527 teenagers were studied to determine what family and lifestyle characteristics were related to good mental health and adjustment. He found that kids who ate dinner with their families at least five times per week were the least likely to take drugs, feel depressed or get into trouble.
According to CASA surveys:
·       Teens who eat dinner with their parents twice a week or less are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes, three times more likely to smoke marijuana, and nearly twice as likely to drink as those who eat dinner with their parents six or seven times a week.
·       Teens who eat frequent family dinners are also less likely than other teens to have sex at young ages and get into fights; they are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide; and are likelier to do better in school. This is true regardless of a teen’s gender, family structure, or family socioeconomic level.
·       Teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, work hard at school, and have positive peer relationships, not to mention healthier eating habits.
C = Courteous and Conversational:
·       Family meals are a natural training ground for learning social skills, manners, and how to have pleasant conversations.
·       It’s at the family table that we learn to talk, learn to behave, to take turns, be polite, not to interrupt, how to share, and when we have guests, how to entertain – good lessons for success in life!
C = Connected to family:
·       According to CASA surveys, teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, work hard at school, and have positive peer relationships.
·       A study by the Kraft Company found that American families who eat together are happier in many aspects of their lives than those who don’t. Children and teens who eat family meals together experience improved family communication, have stronger family ties and a greater sense of identity and belonging.
E = Eating better:
·       Dianne Neumark-Sztainer and her colleagues at the University of Minnesota, published the results of the EAT study (which stands for eating among teens) in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Their findings showed a dramatic relationship between family meal patterns and dietary intake in adolescents. Their study involved nearly 5,000 middle and high school students of diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. They found that family meals were associated with improved intakes of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium-rich foods, protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, B-6 and folate. Family meals were associated with a lower intake of soft-drinks and snack foods.
·       The Project EAT survey also found that girls who ate more frequent family meals exhibited less disordered eating including dieting behaviors, extreme weight control behaviors, binge eating, and chronic dieting.
·       Family meals may help prevent childhood overweight for a variety of reasons: Children feel secure that they will be fed; regular meals prevent grazing and promote coming to the table hungry but not “starving.” Parents can role model healthy eating behaviors and a healthy relationship with food and eating. Eating can be a focused activity if other activities such as television viewing are not taking place; therefore hunger and satiety cues can be attended to and respected. Family meals promote a sense of belonging and lower the risk for loneliness-induced eating for comfort.
S = Sharing food and conversation at meals S = Strengthens families!!
So what is our weekly challenge? It is to make some DAILY effort to step up your family meal time. I want you to put your creative on. While employment requirements or outside activities may preclude your entire family sitting down together for dinner every night of the week I know you can improve on whatever you are doing in some small way. For every day you make an increased effort to gather and enjoy some meal time together (or to if you live alone to have a more special meal time) you earn the 5 daily challenge points for a total of 35 points for the week.

See if there isn’t something on this list you can work on. You do NOT have to try to do all of these. Just use them as a brainstorming list as you find a technique or two that you want to try:

1. KEEP IN MIND THAT IF YOU ARE TOO BUSY TO HAVE MEALS TOGETHER YOU MAY BE TOO BUSY. Plan ahead, think creatively, and make adjustments to fit your family's schedule. For example, you may want to change the time of day you eat together or have a picnic on a blanket before or after a ball game. Can you gather for breakfast? Or perhaps come together late in the evening for a snack or cup of cocoa. What is important is sitting together, being together, looking at one another, talking together.
2. HAVE MEALTIMES WITHOUT TELEVISION. This is your time to notice one another, pay attention to one another and  enjoy one another.
3. KEEP FOOD SIMPLE AND VARIED. Elaborate meals are not necessary for quality family time. Pancakes, grilled cheese, and even pizza can be featured in a meal the family enjoys together.  To save time and effort, plan for and use leftovers.
4. SERVE FAMILY MEMBERS THE SAME FOOD AT THE SAME TIME. Provide a variety of food choices and refrain from forcing children to eat certain foods. If your children are not hungry at mealtime, cut back on snacks between meals.
 5. LIMIT THE TABLE DISCUSSION TO AGREEABLE OR NEUTRAL TOPICS. Focus on the positive by asking questions such as, "What made you smile today?"  or “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” Or “What service or help were you able to give someone today?” Listen attentively and make sure the speaker feels respected. Mealtime is not the place for criticism or rude behaviors
6. INVOLVE THE CHILDREN IN PLANNING, PREPARING, AND SERVING MEALS, THUS BUILDING TEAMWORK AND COOPERATION. Listen to their meal suggestions and try to make eating together fun. Invite them to help create memorable holiday foods and decorations. Children are often more willing to try dishes that they helped prepare.

10. IF YOU LIVE ALONE YOU CAN STILL MAKE AN EXTRA EFFORT TO MAKE YOUR MEAL TIME MORE RELAXING AND SPECIAL. Use a beautiful plate and napkin, decorate with flowers or a placemat. Present your food beautifully and take the time to relax and enjoy.

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