As back-to-school routines fill calendars with homework and after-class activities, it may be tempting to skip family dinners. However, Kate Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic dietitian, says that time around the table can offer some of the most important lessons of the day.
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Here’s mom and dad’s assignment in the new school year: Turn off the screens and turn on the stove to make family meals.
"Anytime you can enjoy a meal with someone, I would encourage you to do so," says Zeratsky. "It has benefits not only for kids but adults as well."
Zeratsky says cooking in your own kitchen gives you more control over ingredients and portion sizes.
"And, so, if you have more control over the food and the portion, you’re likely going to consume less calories and more nutritious foods," adds Zeratsky.
Studies show family meal time can offer social benefits, too, including reducing the chance children will engage in risky behaviors.
So this school year, make time to gather together.
"It might slow the pace of your meal. It might bring a different appreciation of the meal," says Zeratsky. "And it creates a social interaction that’s probably beneficial for everyone."