Family dinner a focus at Salisbury North
It’s an image that seems straight out of the era of the late 1960s or early 1970s in Australia.
The family sits around the dinner table, enjoying their meal of meat and three vegetables, chatting about their day, and catching up.
Fast-forward to 2016 and it’s more likely that rather than sitting with the family eating dinner, people are sitting in front of the TV, working on their iPads or eating alone.
According to The Good Food Karma Index, research carried out by Mark McCrindle, more than one third of Australians (36 per cent) eat their dinner on the couch while watching television.
Research commissioned for Masterfoods, called Lifting the Lid on Dinnertime, revealed 51 per cent of respondents were so distracted at dinner their ability to connect with friends and loved ones was compromised.
It means many Australians are missing out on the important connections forged through interactions over a communal meal.
In a story on the website The Conversation
, Anne Fishel (author of Home for Dinner
and associate clinical professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School) said dinnertime boosted vocabulary even more than being read aloud to.
Older children also reap intellectual benefits with regular mealtimes an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than sport, doing homework or doing art. She also noted family dinners promoted the eating of fruit, vegetable and fewer fried foods and soft drinks.
Goodstart Salisbury North
was recently recognised through the organisation's annual awards program, where it won a major award in the relationships with children category.
At Goodstart Salisbury North (Madelyn and Grace, pictured above), the educators have developed family dinner nights where meals are served at 5.15pm and all of the children gather in one room.
Centre director Nicole Van Nistelrooy said parents often sat down with the children to talk about their day and share stories with them.
“And a lot of our children go home at about 6 or 6.30pm so we thought it was important to send them off with full tummies. Siblings dine together, creating a sense of family and fun and families can take something home from our Foodbank.”
Tips for parents to make family mealtimes fun:
- Planning meals for the week ahead is a good idea so that you have all of the ingredients to hand.
- Try to remove all distractions such as ipads, the TV and mobile phones.
- Being warm and engaging when sitting down to dinner can encourage healthy eating.
- Ask everyone to help with the dinner, either by setting the table or cleaning up.
- Keep meals simple and healthy or use the slow cooker to avoid stress at dinner