Family Meals are an important part of setting up a healthy lifestyle for our children. First Lady Michelle Obama has recently announced her plan to help fight Childhood Obesity and setting up a family mealtime plays a larger role in it. Her goal for America’s families is that we will eat at least five meals together every week. The US Department of Health and Human services made an official statement reminding us that “regularly sitting down for a meal with your children is one way to connect and be involved with what’s happening in their lives.” The statistics shown by a CASA study are remarkable! They show that 72% of teens who ate often with their families said they would go to their parents if they had a problem. They are also 33% less likely to develop an eating disorder and are more likely to have As and Bs in school. Setting up a family meal can be hard with the crazy schedules we all deal with but it is truly worthwhile. Most of my fondest memories of time with my family were around a table. That was truly my inspiration for writing Tablescapes: Setting the Table with Style (Gibbs Smith Publishers, $39.95). To make the most of your family meals be sure to follow these simple tips: -Make meal preparation a family affair. Include your kids on your trips to the grocery store. Tom Thumb has thousands of new everyday low prices and great weekly Reward Card specials on items across the store. The new yellow shelf tags show the old price crossed out and the new everyday low price. It is a great feeling to see your savings right before your eyes. If your kids are along, you can turn the tags in to a fun math game! -Minimize distractions such as the television or radio. Make sure the focus is on the family conversation, not outside distractions. -Put your Cell Phones away! No games or telephone calls should be allowed during a family meal. -Set the mood by setting the table. It doesn’t need to be fancy but it should be thoughtfully set. It shows your family that you care about the treasured mealtime. Let your family get in on the fun and assign each member of your family a regular night that they are responsible for. If you like to be creative, you could set the table with themes to go along with your family’s passions. I recently made a centerpiece out of my toddler’s Sesame Street stuffed animals! -Get in the right mindset at the beginning of the meal. Your family ritual might be a prayer or a question that you all answer by going around the table. Growing up, my father would ask a question and we would each go around the table and answer it.