Reclaim Dinnertime Together
How often do you eat with your entire family? More than 50% of families eat 3-5 meals together per week. Although there’s no magic number, it appears that real benefits can be seen with at least 5 meals together per week.
Join the county-wide campaign to make Denton County healthier one dinner at a time.
This isn’t just for families. College students, retired individuals, and “empty-nesters” can all benefit by having meals with others, whether these are suite-mates, neighbors, or friends.
Here are some steps to make this easier:
Plan for success
- Allow everyone to contribute to the conversation and keep the conversation polite.
- Choose a day when the least amount of extra-curricular activity happens.
- Don’t feel guilty if it’s not at a dinner table.
Set the tone
- Lay some ground rules: Make the dinner table a technology-free zone (MP3 players, laptops & tablets, electronic games, cell phones off and stowed).
- Have a beginning and end where everyone stays and talks until all are finished eating.
- Have your family help you set the mood and the table with place mats, napkins, flowers, candles, or centerpieces.
Prepare to start the conversation
- Use some conversation starters such as: What was your favorite part about school/work today? What did you think about that?
- Sometimes silence is golden—enjoy the peace of just BEING together with your family.
Focus on quality, not quantity
- I’m surprisingly not talking about portions here. Quality of conversation is the strongest predictor of language and literacy development. Complex conversations with storytelling and rich explanations are the best! And guess what? They’re more entertaining too.
- Engage in adult conversation. Don’t reduce language for kids. Just look for a word in your conversation that younger kids may not know and define that word for them. That’s how they learn!
- Express genuine concern and interest in one another’s day (use the rule of empathy). There’s your first conversation starter: What is empathy?
In the Media
Reclaim Dinnertime_LifestylesMarApr12 in Lifestyles of Denton County
Reclaim Dinner Time Denton County Parts 1 & 2 in Cross Timbers Gazette
Download References only (pdf)
Looking for ways to make dinnertime easier? Love to Live Well and Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service will host these events to give you even more tools to make dinnertime easier.
We will offer a 6-workshop series this fall:
- How to Reclaim Dinnertime Together
- Meatless Meals for Health & Wealth
- Crockpot Cooking
- Spice It Up!
- Stretch Your Food Dollar
- Locavore: Beyond the Store
Visit our Facebook page and tell us if you would prefer to attend these face to face or have access to them in webinar format!
Why it’s so important?
A positive relationship exists between the following child well-being indicators and eating family meals together (as family dinners increase, so do positive child well-being outcomes):
- Academic achievement
- Language development
- Vocabulary growth
- Commitment to learning
- Positive values
- Amount of sleep
- Fruit and vegetable intake (children and adults)
What’s more, as the number of family dinners together goes up, the following high-risk behaviors go down:
- Substance use
- Sexual activity
- Behavior problems in school
- Depressive symptoms
- Body mass index/ body mass index percentile (children and adults)
- High fat/sugar intake (children and adults)
- Disordered eating
For more, click on the articles in the left column
Tools to make it easier
Invite your family to dinner tonight! Download invitation to post on the fridge (pdf)
Make it easy to answer, “what’s for dinner?”