Times of Oman
Nov 25, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 01:10 AM GMT
The family that eats together
January 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Photo - Shutterstock

There are so many benefits to eating together as a family and it is in our interests to care for are family's health by giving them really healthy meals that they enjoy. Modern life is busy so it is important to have recipes that are healthy but also quick to prepare.

Research suggests that having dinner together as a family at least four times a week has positive effects on child development. Family dinners have been linked to a lower risk of obesity, improved behaviour and good table manners, and better results in school.
Busy schedules of both parents and children make it harder to have family meals but parents may not be aware of the benefits that come with regularly eating together at the table.

Language skills improve
Language is such a powerful tool to have in life and children learn the power of language though talking and listening. Speaking and listening standards have fallen due to busy modern lives and children spending less time talking to their parents.

Eating dinner together as a family provides the opportunity for conversation. This allows parents to teach healthy communication. The dinner table should not be interrupted by smart phones, television, computers, and mobile devices.  Family time is more important.

By engaging your children in conversation, you teach them how to listen and provide them with a chance to express their own opinions. This allows your children to have an active voice within the family and builds their confidence which is very important as they may be quiet at school and need to learn to express their opinions firstly in the  safely of  home.

Conversations at the dinner table expand the vocabulary and reading ability of children and allow every family member to discuss their day and share any exciting news.

Use these tips:
-- Express an interest in your child's daily life.
-- Discuss current events appropriate for your child's age. Do not underestimate your child's ability to have view on most topics.
-- Let all family members talk.
-- Be an active listener and be sure  your child learns to listen as well.
-- Encourage all your children to participate

So many benefits
The sense of security and togetherness provided by family meals helps nurture children into healthy, well-rounded adults. Frequent family meals have a positive impact on children's values, motivation, personal identity, and self-esteem.

Eating dinner together as a family also encourages healthy eating habits.

Studies show that family meals increase the intake of fruits and vegetables; families who eat dinner together tend to eat less junk food and fried food, and drink less soda.

Here are some mealtime suggestions:
Like many Mums I am keen to ensure my children eat healthy food most of the time and always serve colourful food, as colourful food tends to be healthy food.  This evening following the festive season where we eaten plenty of turkey and beef I am keen to get the family back to eating fish.

Tonight I am serving Honey & Soy Glazed Salmon with rice and salad, followed by mango fool as my children love mango and also because they love a desert. This desert is sugar free but looks fun and is colourful.

Preparing the whole meal including setting the table should not take more than an hour.  This is a fantastically healthy meal; but I do believe that any home cooked meal is healthy as long as it is reasonably low fat and includes some vegetables and fruit.

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