Say YES to family meals!

Busy families sometimes have difficulty scheduling “family time” – but by following simple guidelines, mealtime can bring families together.

In conjunction with the “Raising Healthy Kids” publication series, Iowa State University Extension has released “Steps to a healthier family” (PM 2005) and “Say YES to family meals,” (PM 1842). These publications offer tips for families who want to make mealtime count.

“Statistics show that kids who share mealtime with their families are more likely to be healthier, happier and better students,” said Ruth Litchfield, ISU Extension nutritionist. 

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), children and teens who have frequent family dinners are half as likely to try cigarettes and at 70 percent lower risk for substance abuse. Those kids are more likely to confide in their parents, have friends who Mom and Dad approve of and are more likely to get better grades in school,

Additional benefits of eating together include better eating habits. “Adults and children need the same types of foods, the only differences are the portion size and number of servings,” Litchfield said. “These new publications include a graphic representation of serving sizes for the whole family, as well as several comparisons showing how to make food choices work for you, not against you.”

The publications also include tips on how to avoid mealtime battles over food choices, as well as ideas for ways to balance food intake and physical activity. Copies are available for $1.50 from local ISU Extension offices and from ISU Extension Distribution Center, www.extension.iastate.edu/store/.

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