How to Enjoy More Meals as a Family

Sharing a meal together is a great way for families to enjoy quality time, check in on each other and talk about what’s happening in each other’s lives. With busy schedules, it can be challenging. Katelyn Oostra, MD, ProMedica Physicians Pediatrics, shares tips for families.

“Just like exercise or other healthy habits, you have to make sharing a meal a priority. You have to choose to do it,” said Dr. Oostra. “Pick a small goal of when you’re going to do it, how long and what day of the week. Then, adjust the goal as needed.”

When you’re starting out, don’t worry about being too structured. The shared meal doesn’t have to be every day, the same day each week or even dinnertime.

“If you don’t currently eat together at the table, start by choosing one day. It doesn’t have to be dinner. It could be breakfast, lunch or even the snack everyone eats before sports practice,” explained Dr. Oostra. “Figure out what works for your family and what doesn’t.”

The earlier you start this family habit, the easier it will likely be. Young children may find it comforting, expected and find security in the stability. Teenagers may push back a bit on a new routine, wanting phones or TV while having their meal. Remember that it’s OK for them to communicate their feelings, but the parent or guardian sets the rules.

Be flexible and find what works for you, including who is at the table.

“It doesn’t have to necessarily be the whole family,” explained Dr. Oostra. “A family meal consists of two people part of the family – Mom, Dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. It can be two family members sharing a meal.”

Creating an opportunity for connection during mealtime is what is most important. Start small and work from there.

Katelyn Oostra, MD, is a pediatrician with ProMedica Physicians. View her profile.