The clean-eating lifestyle emphasizes food as a social glue that should be shared with your loved ones, while slowing down and savoring meals is also paramount. Case in point: A recent study found that families who eat with distractions during dinner choose more unhealthy foods and disengage in conversation more so than families that eat without distractions.
Researchers at the University of Illinois videotaped 60 families at dinnertime, grouping half the families in a quiet room with no distractions and the other half in a room with a vacuum cleaner running in the next room over. Not surprisingly, results indicated the noisy vacuum negatively impacted quality of conversation and food choices. For instance, parents in the noisy room consumed more cookies and diet beverages than the parents eating in the quiet room – although on the plus side they also ate more carrots. When parents are constantly getting up and down from the table, they may not notice what and how much their kids are eating, or may not demonstrate enough emotional interest in their children. Past studies have also indicated that when families dine together, children perform better in school and experience fewer behavioral issues.
To engage the whole family at dinnertime, put away or turn off the electronics and lessen mealtime stress by preparing meals in advance that you can easily defrost or reheat. This will leave much more time for a leisurely meal and time to hear about everyone’s day. Turn to family-pleasing foods like Clean Eating’s Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Dipping Sauce and Sloppy Open-Faced Tacos so that no one is asking for the drive-thru on the way home from hockey practice.
To learn more about how to eat clean, see What is Clean Eating?