October is Eat Together, Eat Better month. Research shows that families who eat together tend to eat more nutritious foods in greater variety. Children eat more vegetables and drink more milk. These benefits are great, since we’re all about health at LiveWell Johnson County. But we’re about people, too. As tragic events take over our news feeds, we think about ways to make our community and our world a better place. So consider this: the greatest benefit families get by eating together is improved communication. We think connected families might be even better than broccoli.
To get the conversation started around your table, check out these conversation starters in English and Spanish. The guide contains questions for everyone in the family from young children to teens. Or, try reversing the age-order of the questions. You never know what kind of answer you might get if you ask another adult at your table: “What is the best thing that happened to you today?” Similar experiment asking your 4-year-old: “What place would you most like to visit and why?” The point is to talk to each other!
The USDA SNAP-Ed and the Washington State University Extension office, in partnership with the Washington State Dairy Council, developed the concept of Eat Together, Eat Better. The materials are free to download.
The Family Dinner Project, an initiative of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is another great resource for dinner conversation starters and fun games to play while enjoying a meal together as a family.
Luckily, the LiveWell blog also has a wealth of recipes for all those family dinners. Have a bunch of little ones who only like mac and cheese? Check out this twist on a classic! Evenings just too packed to find an hour to prep and eat a meal together? Try sitting down around some protein-packed breakfast bites. Or use this as an opportunity to challenge your family to try new things, like zoodles. Want to skip the fuss of something new? Try this super easy Italian Chicken Dinner.
The point is, you can’t go wrong with a healthy meal and a few minutes to connect with your people. Comment below and let us know what’s “better than broccoli” at your family table. Bonus points if you tell us how your 4-year-old answered their conversation starter. We could all use some laughs!