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The Family That Eats Together Doesn’t Do Drugs!

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The benefits of family mealtime go far beyond simply social.

Research in the past has shown that the more often a family eats together, the less likely a teenage child is to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs. Plus, they tend to do better academically.

A survey published by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has revealed regular family dinners produce health benefits that stretch beyond those obtained at the dinner table. A University of Minnesota study even found that families who eat together are less likely to have children who suffer from eating disorders.

But with dance lessons, practice, homework and the demands of a career and a long commute, sitting down together for an evening meal can be a challenge. Here are some tips:

  • Pick a Meal: It doesn’t have to be dinner. Turns out the positive effects are not limited to the evening meal.
  • Snack Strategically: If your child is hungry at 5 p.m. but dinner is scheduled for 7 p.m., offer a protein snack to tide him or her over.
  • Plan Menus: Design an entire week’s worth of meals in advance. Reduce stress by having the ingredients you need in advance.
  • Prep Ahead: If you have time in the morning, use it to wash and trim the vegetables you plan to cook or thaw the meat you intend to cook that evening.
  • Think Fast: Many nutritious meals can be stir-fried or broiled, two speedy ways to cook quickly. Save meals that are more elaborate for weekends.
  • No TV: Keep this time sacred. Share stories and the highlights of your day without the distraction of the news.

Given that frequent family dinners have such a positive influence on children, find ways to make this a habit in your family. And why not ask your child, “What was the best thing that happened to you today?”

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