Reclaim Our Tradition Of Family Meals For Better Health

African American family eating mealRemember the days when your whole family gathered together for a meal? It was a time to de-stress, laugh, share family news, and spend quality time with loved ones.

Family meals have always been at the heart of African American family life and special celebrations. “Traditions like Sunday suppers and holiday meals have historically been a part of African American customs since slavery – often as a means to rejuvenate one’s spirit and spend time together within a positive environment,” says Sade Anderson, Oldways Program manager and African Diaspora Specialist. “And Across the African continent, you can still find people cooking and eating together as a daily practice.”

Unfortunately, it seems that these traditions have not withstood the test of time and African American health may be suffering as a result. “Studies show that family meals, specifically cooking and sitting down to eat, can improve one’s health,” says Anderson. Home-cooked meals nourish the spirit, brain, and health of all family members.

Not to mention, people who frequently cook at home eat fewer, healthier calories. “Cooking at home means you are able to control the salt, sugar, and fat content of your meals and that can greatly reduce your chances of health-related illnesses such as obesity and diabetes,” says Anderson. Additionally, regular family meals are linked to higher grades and self-esteem, healthier eating habits and less risky behavior in children.

However, according to a 2013 Harris poll, only 30 percent of American families share dinner every night. Juggling jobs, kids and the demands of a busy, modern life often come at the expense of family mealtime at home. But, this doesn’t need to be the case. The following tips will help you reclaim your family meal traditions and make new modern mealtime traditions.

Plan your meals. Anderson says, “Meal-planning as a family is a great way to bring everyone to the table for a meal. As a family, you can come up with exciting and delicious meals that everyone is interested in trying.”