TUNKHANNOCK TWP., Pa. – Dinnertime is a stressful time of the day for many families with parents coming home from work, kids coming home from school, and everybody hungry and ready to eat.
New research suggests a positive attitude during mealtime could influence kids’ food choices, which have an impact on health down the road.
For Lisa and Chris Lucht, the kitchen table is the place where this family refuels and reconnects.
“It’s important to get us all together so that we have time to talk. The kids know we are focusing on them. They have our full attention. We have their full attention,” said Lisa Lucht.
But a smooth transition from day to dinner isn’t always easy.
“Coming home from work and getting us all to the table, it’s busy,” she said.
New research suggests if parents can create a positive environment at mealtime, children reap the health benefits.
Jaclyn Saltzman, MPH University of Illinois Family Resiliency Center, and her colleagues studied the habits of 75 families with 3 year olds. For 23 months they videotaped mealtime visits and also used surveys to assess positive and negative emotions and interactions.
“Families that had a more positive mealtime emotional climate also had children who ate about one more serving of healthy food,” Saltzman said.
Saltzman says parents can create a positive environment by involving kids in mealtime setup or preparation. Set a dinner routine; eat at the same time and in the same place. Organize a meal plan ahead of time; cutting up vegetables earlier in the afternoon or on weekends. Eliminate all distractions.
“Their kids eat more healthy foods, the kids have healthier weight statuses,” Saltzman said.
For parents, it’s food for thought.