Do Family Dinners Make Healthy Families?

Do Family Dinners Make Healthy Families?
By: Wendy Ray

There's a good chance some of you are eating dinner while you watch Heartland News at Five, but is your family with you? A new survey reports that eating dinner with your children can dramatically help you and your kids.

Smoking, drinking, and using drugs are habits parents encourage their children not to pick up, but a new Columbia University survey suggests having dinner as a family can easily cut down your child's risk of doing those things. Taking time to sit down at a table for dinner, allows children and parents to get away from all distractions; everything is focused on what's being said at the dinner table. Study experts say this focused attention allows children to confide more in their parents and children feel their parents are more proud of them.

Jayanti Ray, a mother of two boys says, "We share some stories, plan for the next day, and applaud them for doing something nice." Jayanti and her family spend so much time at the dinner table she's looking for a new one. She considers the dinner table a place to share experiences together as a family. It's something that Southeast Hospital dietician Courtney Bourbon says some people just don't put emphasis on anymore. "Mealtime has kind of gone by the wayside now days," Bourbon says. "It can be a time to see how was their day, what did they do at school. It's a good time to set morals and goals." Sitting down to dinner is also a good time to instill healthy eating habits in your children.

Wanda Vogel's not surprised by the survey's findings. She always set time aside for dinner when her children were young. "We talked a lot, talked about what went on during the day, everything they had done," she says.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has named this coming Monday, September 26th, Family Day, a day to eat dinner with your children.

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