1 in 4 parents have avoided having their children’s friends over for dinner

• 46% cite ‘not knowing what to cook them’ as the top reason
• Rise of veganism, gluten-free and dairy free diets can increase stress around meal prep

• “The experience of having friends over for dinner creates some great learning opportunities for our children.” – Dr Sonya Wallbank

• 1 in 4 parents have avoided having their children’s friends over for dinner

A recent study conducted by Magnet Kitchens, surveyed 2,000 parents to find out how varied dietary requirements are affecting modern family life.

Results have revealed that one in four parents (25%) actively avoid inviting their children’s friends over for dinner due to their specific dietary requirements.

The top reason cited by nearly half of respondents (47%) was ‘not knowing what to cook for them’, followed by 40% who ‘didn’t want to cook different meals’. It is less than surprising that parents feel this way considering that 62% of UK parents are in the kitchen cooking different versions of the same meal each evening for their own families. Many even dedicate an extra hour per day just to planning and preparing meals.

Delving deeper in to how a typical UK household eat, 12% of family members are Vegetarian or Vegan, 7% eat a strictly gluten-free diet and 2% live on a carbohydrate-free-diet. These numbers are even higher if you live in London; you’re twice as likely to be a vegetarian or vegan (25%) or have a gluten-free diet (16%) and three times more likely (6.5%) to have a carbohydrate-free diet. It’s little wonder that parents are trying to avoid their children’s friend’s diets being thrown in to the mix.

Gone are the days of eating what has been put in front of you, it’s apparent that as a nation, our eating habits have become much more varied and diverse, including that of children. Not only are parents trying to avoid cooking for their children’s friends, 10% also admitted to worrying that their habits will rub off on to their children too and that they will start ‘asking for different food’, adding further complexity to meal times.

Dr Sonya Wallbank, Clinical Director at The Arden Centre said: “The experience of having friends over for dinner creates some great learning opportunities for our children. The relaxed tea time environment gives children time to have conversations with each other outside of the school environment, they grow from learning about how other families interact together and do things that may be different to themselves and the interaction with adults other than their own parents builds their ability to communicate. These softer social skills are a critical building block for children’s development into adults.”

In a bid to help the nations families get back together and avoid having to ban friends at meal times, Magnet have worked with clinical director, Dr Sonya Wallbank and nutritionist, Nichola Ludlam-Raine to create a series of top tips. For more information on the campaign, please visit the Magnet site, here: http://www.magnet.co.uk/advice-inspiration/blog/20162/August/digesting-the-family-dinner-dynamic

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