A new school year has started and so have a multitude of afterschool activities and events. It can be easy to let family mealtimes fall by the wayside but research shows that children and teens who eat more shared family meals:

• Eat more fruits, vegetables, and fewer processed snack foods

• Are less likely to be overweight

• Tend to be happier with their present life and their prospects for the future

• Have a greater vocabulary and better grades in school

• Are less likely to have risky behavior such as smoking, drugs, or eating disorders.

Below are some guidelines to help family mealtime run smoothly in your home.

• Keep mealtimes pleasant. Make meals a time to discuss positive topics, not family problems or discipline issues.

• Turn off the TV! Avoid distractions like reading, television, and cell phones. Make meals a time for family interactions. Have everyone sit together and try to create a calm environment.

• Schedule meals. Start with planning 1 or 2 meals a week and make them a priority. Put family meals on the calendar. Leave notes in your kids’ backpacks as reminders.

• Keep it simple. Meals don’t have to be complicated or made from scratch. Just try to include a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

• Get everyone involved. Planning the meals, grocery shopping, setting the table, preparing the food… everyone can do something! Make it fun and get the whole family involved!

For additional resources on family life and nutrition, contact Casey Jarding – County Extension Agent at 479-667-3720 or by email at cjarding@uaex.edu.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity /equal access/affirmative action institution.