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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Family Meals

Are you and your family too busy to eat together? If so, you are not alone. As children and teens get older, the number of meals a family eats together usually decreases.1 But, a “family” doesn’t have to include just immediate family members like parents, children and siblings; it could also include friends or other relatives.


Benefits of Family Meals1

Children and teens:

  • make healthier food choices, like eating  more vegetables and fruit and having less pop and fried foods
  • perform better in school
  • avoid high-risk activities, like substance abuse and smoking
  • build and maintain close family relationships
  • learn to stop eating once they are full, especially when their parents act as role models
  • practice social skills and manners by using “please” and “thank you”

Top 5 ways to promote family meals in your home

1. Make family meals a priority.

Schedule time for family meals, but be flexible with meal timing and location. If you aren’t eating as a family now, set a goal of having at least one family meal per week to start.

2. Plan ahead.

Use Canada’s Food Guide to plan meals. Include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods.

3. Involve the whole family.

They can help with planning, preparing, serving and cleaning up after meals. Give children and teens age-appropriate tasks.

4. Be a positive role model.

Try new foods with your kids. Make sure you also eat regular meals and snacks with your kids.

5. Keep the focus on your family.

Remove distractions, like the TV, tablets and cell phones. Also, keep family conversations about pleasant topics.

A Public Health Nurse at the Health Connection can provide support, advice and information for you and your family. Give us a call at 519-850-2280.
Date of creation: January 21, 2013
Last modified on: November 22, 2019


1Story, M., Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005) A perspective on family meals: Do they matter? Nutrition Today. 40(6), 261-266