The "secret ingredient" that makes family dinners so healthy may surprise you—it's not only what you eat that matters, but also that kids and parents are regularly sharing conversation and news about what's going on in their daily lives.

It helps to establish a few simple rules that make dinner comfortable and fun. For example, have everyone share the best and worst part of the day they just had, or everyone can share an opinion about one story in the news (take turns being the one who chooses the topic) and no one gets to criticize.

Questions to spark conversations

  • What was the funniest thing you saw today?
  • What is the most surprising thing you learned?
  • What are you grateful about today?

Another important point ...

Turn off your cell phone and TV — and don't answer the landline either! Protect dinnertime to keep your family close!

Note to Parents

Studies show that the more kids share mealtimes with their parents, the higher their grades—and they get into less trouble at school too. And there's more—kids who eat with their families are less likely to struggle with their weight and also less likely to end up abusing drugs or alcohol down the road.​