Shelly Barnes: UT Extension to celebrate dining in for healthy families

Shelly Barnes • Nov 21, 2017 at 8:44 PM

Think back. When was the last time your family gathered together for a family meal? If your last family meal seems like a distant memory, you can make a change by participating in the Dine In Challenge on Family and Consumer Sciences Day. On Dec. 3, UT Extension, in partnership with the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, encourages you to gather your family and dine in together.

Participating in the event is easy. Simply:

• visit http://www.aafcs.org/FCSday/commitment.html.

• complete the sign-up form and pledge to dine in as a family Dec. 3.

• on Dec. 3, prepare and eat a meal with your family.

Signing up for the dine in event is simple. Yet, this simple act can have profound, positive benefits for your family. According to Dr. Christopher Sneed, Extension specialist with UT Extension, family meals serve as a time for children to learn positive food habits.  

“Research shows children who eat meals with their families tend to have less rates of obesity, consume more nutrient dense foods and are less likely to develop an eating disorder,” said Sneed.  

Even beyond these benefits, a host of other benefits can result from time spent as a family around the table.  

“Family meal times produce amazing effects on children’s academic and social development,” said Sneed. 

Children who take part in regular family meals have:

• greater vocabulary growth.

• fewer behavioral problems.

• better academic performance.

The key thing to remember – it is the process of actually sitting down as a family, having conversation and spending time together that is the most important. Many families may worry they are not able to cook the “perfect” meal and thus forego sitting down to family mealtime. Worrying over preparing the perfect meal should not be a concern. Any healthy meal, whether it’s a one-skillet recipe or something prepared using the slow cooker, is the perfect meal for family mealtime.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today and take the Dine In Challenge. The time you spend around the family table Dec. 3 may be the start of a new family tradition and the start of some amazing benefits for your children and your family.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state and provides equal opportunities in all programming and employment. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.

For more information on the dine in event, visit aafcs.org/FCSday. Contact Shelly Barnes, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at [email protected] or 615-444-9584.

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