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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Eating Together

Science Daily had this article a few days ago titled Eating Together As A Family Creates Better Eating Habits Later In Life.

Eating together as a family during adolescence is associated with lasting positive effects on dietary quality in young adulthood, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.
The researchers found eating family meals together during adolescence resulted in adults who ate more fruit, dark-green and orange vegetables and key nutrients, and drank less soft drinks. Frequency of family meals predicted females would eat breakfast as adults. For both sexes, frequency of family meals as adolescents predicted eating dinner more frequently as adults, placing a higher priority on structured meals and a higher priority on social eating.

My family ate together at least 80% of the time when I was growing up. Either Mom or Jim cooked our delicious, balanced meals and everyone that was home sat and ate. At dinner time, we came home from playing outside, washed up, and ate with the family where we actually conversed (a foreign concept these days). Once dinner was over, us kids were free to go back to running around the neighborhood like hooligans, but only after we washed and dried the dishes. Our family meals were far more healthful than the norm, and while they may not conform to my "fanatical" standards now, all in all, they were a very solid base to a lifetime of proper eating. We always had a protein of some sort: steak, pork chops, roast, etc. A vegetable or two was always, always, always served and everyone of us took a little bit of everything, whether we liked it or not. I recall having to force myself to eat my broccoli and today I eat entire stalks of it willingly. And there was often a starch - potatoes, rice, noodles, bread, etc. Sure, I don't eat the starchy grain products with regularity anymore and there wasn't a bottle of olive oil nearby for dousing everything, but I would call our family dinners nutritious.

My Mom isn't a nutritionist by any means, but somehow she instinctively knew how to put together a nice delicious well-balanced meal. I would surmise that her mother cooked much the same way and unsurprisingly, my Mom and her siblings are all healthy adults. If more families ate like this, and took the time to eat together, we'd probably see fewer health problems in the nation. Just taking the time to slow down and eat, converse, and enjoy the company of others would be a big boon over the cram-a-burger-and-fries-down-your-gullet-while-running-errands eating culture that we have today.

And recall that kids will eat more vegetables if they're homegrown.