Is the family dinner a thing of the past?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/family-dinner/MY02521
- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Is the family dinner a thing of the past?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
It was once a staple of everyday life, the center of our homes and the place where families regrouped at the end of the day. Yes, I'm talking about the family dinner table. Today, it's likely to be hidden under dust and piles of papers and mail.
Does clearing the clutter and sitting down for a family meal have benefits? Yes, and not just for nostalgic reasons. Turns out that eating at least 3-5 meals as a family each week appears to have the following benefits:
- A sense of family connectedness, routine and stability
- Improved school performance
- Lower risk of substance abuse and delinquency
- Healthier eating habits
- Healthier weight and a reduced risk of obesity and disordered eating
Even kids can see that the family meal is important. A survey of adolescents revealed that they believed they would eat healthier if they ate more meals with their families. They also expressed a desire for their parents to prepare healthy meals at home.
You're probably thinking that getting your family around the dinner table is easier said than done. True. But here are few strategies for bringing your family together for a shared meal:
- Get picky eaters involved. Include your children in meal planning. Invite them to pick out the entree, vegetable and fruit for the meal. Give children age-appropriate tasks in meal prep, such as setting and clearing the table.
- Think outside the box. Dinner isn't the only meal you can share. Eat breakfast or a snack together. Pack a picnic and take it along to the evening activity.
- Plan ahead and have a plan B. Carve out 10-20 minutes to look ahead at your calendar and make a grocery list. Match the meals to your schedule. Prepare meals on your day off for reheating later in the week. And keep a list of quick meals you can throw together from kitchen staples.
Are you struggling to get your family together for a meal? Or have you and your family found your way back to the dinner table? What strategies work for your family? Please share.
To your health and the health of your family,
- Hammons A, et al. Is frequency of shared family meals related to the nutritional health of children and adolescents? Pediatrics 2011;127:e1565.
- Musick K, et al. Assessing causality and persistence in associations between family dinners and adolescent well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family. 2012;74:476.