small Family Meals Make a BIG Difference

By Dr. Carrie Erickson

After school activities, late workdays, and long commutes all make eating together as a family a challenge. However, doing so has been proven in several studies to strengthen the family bond and lead to better physical and mental health for your children.

Children of families that eat meals together every day or almost every day, compared to those who never or only sometimes do …
• Are less likely to be overweight and have substance abuse issues
• Are more likely to eat healthy foods and have better nutritional intake of important vitamins and minerals
• Consume more fruits and vegetables and fewer snack foods
• Tend to do better in school
• Report being happier with their present life and prospects for their future
• Report feeling closer to their families and more likely to tell them about a serious problem they are having

Tips to Establish Family Mealtimes

  • Set a goal. Start with twice/week and build from there. Keep the meal simple. Take advantage of ready-made marinades, sauces, and meals. Make double batches of meals and freeze half for use later. Use a Crock pot so that everything is ready when you get home from work/school.
  • Keep it pleasant and enjoyable. Mealtime should not be used to discuss serious conversations, discipline, or argue over problems.
  • Limit distractions. No TV, phones, or video games. Use the time for listening, sharing stories, and nurturing family connections.

Feel Good Hearty Granola Bars

3 ripe bananas mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pepita seeds (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
substitute any nuts with more seeds if allergic**


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease baking pan and line with parchment paper so it is easier to get out.
  3. Combine ingredients in large bowl.
  4. Spoon mixture into a baking pan and press down until smooth and flat.
  5. Bake 23-27 minutes until edges are golden brown.
  6. Remove and place dish on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove slab from pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.
  7. When completely cool, slice into rectangles and enjoy!

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