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Eating Together is Healthier


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My newspaper today says that research has shown that 50% of dinners eaten by overweight children are consumed in front of the Tv. It suggests that turning off the Tv and involving kids in the preparation of meals is one answer, and that children who eat dinner with their parents have higher intakes of essential nutrients and vitamins. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the typical American family spends over $2000 in dinners in restaurants and ten percent of that in fast food establishments.

Do you involve your kids in cooking? Is the Tv on at dinner?

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How do we handle it?

Even if the TV is on (which it is sometimes), it's not visible from either our kitchen table or the dining room table. Just in the past year, sometimes the Spawn and I will have our dinners in the TV room but only when the Spouse is away on business. That happens maybe once every other month.

Typically, we all sit down to one of the tables and eat together. About three years ago, the Spawn started practising aikido. That meant that she was at the dojo until around 8:00 every night from Monday to Thursday. We just moved our dinner time to 8:01.

The Spawn is not often involved in cooking dinner; I save the kid labour for clean-up. :raz: (Well, plus she's usually at the dojo during cooking time.)

That being said, she gets included in the seemingly daily conundrum of "What should we have for dinner?" and often comes up with the winning idea. Last night's dinner (a ploughman's lunch-type affair) was entirely her idea. So, she is involved in the planning of dinner, just not in the implementation.

We do eat out frequently (well, I think it's frequently) ... about once a week, maybe once every other week. Fast food is never a consideration; we don't care for it.

So, is she overweight? According to a weight range chart I just tracked down, she is overweight by 2 pounds. Realistically, she could probably stand to lose 10. Ten pounds on a 5'10" amazon isn't bad though.

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If there's a distraction during a meal such as the TV then it's inevitable that children (and adults) will eat far more than they need to.....it's far easier to exercise portion control at the table. Also if the meal is eaten at the table, the adults supervising the meal can make sure children eat a nutritionally balanced meal because you can see exactly what's on their plate and what they are actually eating.

I don't have any concerns with my children's eating habits. They are enthusiastic about food and I'm satisfied that their diet is good. I'm not sure what they actually weigh but I can see they are not overweight. They help with meals in small ways such as preparing the veg, laying the table, putting out the water jug, cutting the bread and that kind of thing. They are also involved every day in the decision about what the dinner will be that evening. Fast food has never been part of their lives. They get plenty of exercise as well which sharpens their appetites for a good meal and makes them far less inclined to snack between meals.

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