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Bring Back Family Meals

Food is to be enjoyed. Eating with others, both family and friends, enhances this enjoyment. It's even been shown that food is digested better when eaten in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

Family meals of the past provided an excellent opportunity to get to know each other. Much more than food was shared. Family values, the development of communication and interpersonal skills, and the development of self-worth and self-esteem were nurtured in family meals.

Our lives have become more complex. And our food has been undergoing many technological changes, making it easier to prepare meals quickly -- hopefully giving families more time to spend together. Time-saving equipment, especially the microwave and convection ovens, now allows many foods to be prepared quickly. Family meals now often involve fast food, which is fine as long as family members eat together and share.

You can stop at the delicatessen or grocery store and pick up an entrée, bread, fresh fruit, and fresh or frozen vegetables. In ten minutes or less, you can transfer the purchased entree to your dishes and cut up a salad while frozen vegetables cook in the microwave. Or you can order a pizza or Chinese food and prepare a salad before the main meal arrives. This is also the time to involve the children in the preparation of the family meal -- either in selecting the fruits or vegetables for a salad, mixing the salad, or setting the table. Children of all ages get more enjoyment out of meals when they have been involved in the preparation.

Remember that the important part of family meals is bringing families together. It gives families a purpose. It doesn't mean all meals must be at home or around a table. These meals could be picnics at the ballpark or soccer field, where as many family members as possible can eat together and still participate in events with the children. Where the meal happens and what food is consumed are secondary. Enjoy and get to know each other.

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From Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents. Copyright © 1995 by Sandra K. Nissenberg, Margaret L. Bogle, and Audrey C. Wright. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

To order this book visit www.wiley.com.


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