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‘Dining in Day’ is Dec. 3

Since 2014, nearly half a million people have committed to “Dining In” on Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Day! The pandemic isn’t going to stop FCS professionals and families across the country from celebrating FCS Day with the “Dine in Day.” The theme this year is Dining in for FCS success.

When a family sits down together for a meal, it helps them handle the stresses of daily life and the hassles of day-to-day existence. Eating together tends to promote more sensible eating habits, which in turn helps family members manage their weight. Even with some of the COVID-19 restrictions, many families still have challenging school, work schedules and extracurricular activities that can make it difficult to find time to eat together. Many families may go days or weeks without sitting down as a family to share a meal.

Researchers have found that families who share meals together on a regular basis, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner have many benefits.

— Family meals are more nutritious. A Harvard study found that families who eat together are twice as likely to eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables as families who don’t eat together.

— Kids who eat family meals tend to eat a wider variety of foods and become less picky eaters.

— Family meals provide an opportunity for family members to come together, strengthen ties and build better relationships. They build a sense of belonging which leads to better self-esteem.

— Family meals offer parents a chance to be role models. They can set an example of healthy eating and polite table manners.

— Family meals help prevent obesity. Research shows that people tend to eat less during family meals because they eat more slowly and talk more.

— Research shows that kids who eat family meals have a lower chance of engaging in high risk behaviors such as substance use and violence, and fewer psychological problems.

Tips for eating

more meals together

— Make family meals a priority in your household. Focus on the importance of being together as a family more than on making an elaborate meal.

— Start with small steps. Increase the number of family meals by one extra meal a week.

— As a family, plan a menu for the week and make a grocery list.

— Let the kids be involved. Let them help prepare food or set the table.

— Turn off the TV and put down the cell phones during mealtimes.

— Strive to have a relaxed conversation and encourage family members to share good and challenges experiences of the day.

— Work as a family to clean up afterwards.

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Laurie Welch is a nutrition and family issues educator with Penn State Cooperative Extension, 570-726-0022.

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