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Ways To Slow Down And Enjoy Dinner

A relaxed family dinner offers real benefits for adults and children. Leisurely eating leads to feeling fuller with less food. Adults who eat more slowly tend to consume fewer calories at mealtime and to have lower weights. When families eat meals together, young people tend to have healthier weights, more success in school, fewer eating problems, lower substance abuse rates and less depression.

Here are four ways to make mealtimes matter.

Give your family meals the time and attention they deserve. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness. Give your family the gift of leisurely eating by allowing at least 25 to 30 minutes for a meal wherever you eat.

Get the whole family involved in dinner — from start to finish. Even very young children like being involved in planning and preparing healthful meals. Assign age-appropriate jobs, like choosing the fruit, mixing pre-cut vegetables into a salad, setting the table or clearing the dishes afterwards.

Create a pleasant, distraction- free zone at the dinner table. Of all the things that can quickly improve mealtime atmosphere, this is undoubtedly the most important. Ask the whole family to turn off their electronic devices for just 30 minutes. The goal is to provide a relatively quiet time to enjoy food and being together.

Make family conversations the centerpiece of your time together. Pleasant conversations make good meals even better. They help young children expand their vocabulary and other language skills. They help adults learn what is really going on in the lives of young people. They help everyone feel more secure and connected in a confusing and often overwhelming world.

For more information on family mealtime and communication, contact MSU Extension in Roosevelt County and ask for MontGuides entitled Positive Family Communication and Family Mealtime. Call 787-5312 or email [email protected]

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