On Monday, Dec. 3, West Virginia University Extension Service will challenge West Virginia families to spend one meal together at home, without the distractions of technology, to commemorate National Family and Consumer Sciences Day, or Dine In Day.
WVU Extension Health Promotion Specialist Elaine Bowen encourages families to put down their phones, prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal together, and explore the emotional and social aspects associated with family mealtime.
“I think it’s the most important 20 minutes out of every day because there are so many benefits,” said Bowen. “We don’t always recognize the importance of something as simple as sitting down and connecting over food. It’s the human connection that is so vital to families.”
While it can be difficult to find time in our schedules to plan a family meal, research has proven that family mealtime can have positive influences on communication, nutrition, childhood obesity and social development.
Children and adolescents that share family meals three or more times a week are more likely to maintain a healthier weight and have a more balanced diet according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Try starting small and keeping it simple with quick healthy meals you can prepare together as a family.
“Research shows there are health benefits, psychological benefits and even financial benefits because it is less expensive to prepare meals at home. Mealtime can be dinner, could be a snack together, breakfast, coffee; it doesn’t always have to be dinner. The important thing is to enjoy time with someone else,” says Bowen.
More than 400,000 people have committed to the challenge since 2014 and those looking to participate this year can sign up online at https://tinyurl.com/y7sr927b.
Remember to join the online conversation and share by tagging #FCSDay on social media and by connecting with the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences on Facebook at facebook.com/AAFCSheadquarters and Twitter @AAFCS. For additional information about Family and Consumer Sciences Dining-In Day, visit www.aafcs.org/fcsday/.
For more information on health and wellness initiatives in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service or visit extension.wvu.edu.