After Dr. Fishel’s recent lecture to Communities that Care in Franklin County, MA, the local news recapped her visit with an article in the Greenfield Recorder.
As the article relates, “In Franklin County, the most recent annual survey of teens shows that 58 percent of teens report that they have dinner with their families four or more nights a week — and that among those teens, there’s a dramatic correlation with lower use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, a lower risk of depression and stronger connections with parents, along with a higher consumption of fruit.” Building upon that local research and the numerous other studies that have shown the benefits of family dinner for both children and adults, Dr. Fishel gave a talk to school and human services workers who deal directly with families to encourage them to help their clients make dinnertime a priority.
Each year, more than 9 in 10 Americans gather around the table with family and friends for Thanksgiving. But only 50 percent of us eat with our family on a regular basis. That’s too bad. Twenty years of research has shown that family dinners are great for the brain (enhancing preschool vocabulary and raising test scores), body (improving cardiovascular health in teens and lowering the odds of obesity) and spirit (reducing rates of behavioral problems, stress and substance abuse). But in extolling the virtues of the family dinner, we may have obscured what the meal is actually about and why it serves parents and children. In that gap lies a thick stew of myths.
1. Teens don’t want to eat with their parents
2. Family dinners are anti-feminist
3. Family dinners depend on a homemade meal
4. Families don’t have time to pull it off
5. Food fights make family dinners impossible
Read the article in full and find out what Dr. Fishel has to say about these five common family dinner myths on The Washington Post.
On June 1, 2015, Dr. Anne Fishel will be joining the regular Dr. Greene “Let’s Talk Kids’ Health” Twitter chat to discuss the importance of family dinners. The chat, titled The Power of Family Dinner, will take place at 9 p.m. EST under the hashtag #LTKH.
Dr. Fishel will be lending her expertise to subjects such as:
The impact of family dinners on teen behavior
What research shows about the health benefits of family dinners
How conversation at the dinner table benefits kids
And many other important topics! We hope you’ll join in the chat and invite your friends and family to participate as well.
Dr. Fishel is excited and pleased to be traveling to New York State in the upcoming week. She’s looking forward to speaking at two events:
Parenting Lecture Series at the Town School, April 28, 2015. Dr. Fishel will be meeting with parents for an in-depth discussion of the research and best practices covered in Home for Dinner. The session will focus on family dinner as a key component of contributing to healthy development – both physically and socio-emotionally – throughout all stages of childhood, as well as how a positive mealtime dynamic can have beneficial impacts on all members of a family.
15th Annual Women’s Health and Fitness Expo, May 2, 2015. Dr. Fishel will lead a seminar entitled How to Get the Most out of Your Family Dinners: Eat Well, Play, Talk, Experiment, and Engage with the Wider World, in which she’ll offer her perspectives as a family therapist, working parent, and community organizer to help participants create more meaningful mealtime experiences. Storytelling, playing with your food, and using the time spent cooking and eating together to spark deeper conversations and acts of social engagement will be particular highlights of this session with Dr. Fishel.
For more information about other appearances and upcoming events featuring Dr. Fishel, visit the Events page.
When Mrs. Obama appeared on the “Today” show last week, she voiced what many parents know intuitively – eating with your family is good for the body and the spirit of all family members. As she told reporter Jenna Bush, “Family dinners are absolutely important. Barack and I have tried to hold fast to the family dinner…that’s the time that you get to hear little things in the voice of your kids that might be wrong or right. You can check their temperatures. It’s a great opportunity for Barack to forget about the worries of the world he carries around, and we can just be a family.”
In her commitment to lowering skyrocketing obesity rates, Mrs. Obama has been getting the message out for the past 5 years to eat more healthily and to get moving. She advocates that parents make simple changes at the dinner table (the same effective ones she made years ago when her pediatrician expressed some concern about her daughters’ weight) – eating more fruits and vegetables, eliminating processed and sugary foods, and cooking at home.
Find out what I have to say about Mrs. Obama’s approach, and the science behind the benefits of family dinners, on Psychology Today.
The advice to play with your food may sound messy, even subversive. I certainly grew up being told not to play with mine. As a mother myself, I wasn’t happy when my son confessed he had earned a week long detention for his leadership in a middle school food fight.
But I’ve come to see that the kitchen isn’t just a workstation for family dinners: It can also be a place for play. And when kids play at the dinner table, they linger longer and eat better.
So with apologies to my mother, here are six reasons you should encourage your kids to play with their food…
As a family therapist, I often have the impulse to tell families to go home and have dinner together rather than spending an hour with me. And 20 years of research in North America, Europe and Australia back up my enthusiasm for family dinners. It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit. And that nightly dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal that took three hours to cook, nor does it need to be made with organic arugula and heirloom parsnips.
For starters, researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to. The researchers counted the number of rare words – those not found on a list of 3,000 most common words – that the families used during dinner conversation. Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud….
Find out how family dinners boost academic performance, improve kids’ health and emotional well-being, improve behavior, and lower risk factors on The Washington Post.