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If your family is anything like mine, it is not uncommon for the five of us to be going in three different directions on certain school nights. Also, our work schedules can interfere with time for meal preparation. So it takes determination to have homemade dinners prepared for us to eat together around our dining room table.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota have studied family meals through Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), where they found that about a third of families with teenagers have two or less family meals each week. Family meals are associated with healthier food choices; fewer disordered eating behaviors, less substance abuse, and better psychosocial well-being among adolescents.
The most important part of preparing healthy dinners is to plan ahead. Here are some meal ideas for your busy seasons in life:
I’m thankful that life comes in seasons. If we we’re so inclined, our kids could play competitive soccer year round. But we choose to take time off in the winter and the summer to pursue other things. Encouraging family meals is just one of many reasons why it is a good idea for young athletes to have one to two rest days per week and two to three months off from their sport per year. Learn more about overtraining and burnout in young athletes.
And you can look forward to that big milestone when your young athlete reaches high school, because practice is after school instead of during the dinner hour! Now that’s something to cheer about!
Written by: Laura Watne, MS, RD, Clinical Nutrition, Children’s Hospital Colorado. To learn more, visit our Orthopedic Institute, or schedule an appointment at 720-777-6600. We are happy to consult with parents or referring providers before a patient is seen at Children’s Colorado.