Family time is important, and so is eating meals together, but it’s becoming more difficult for families to pull it off. I remember the meals we shared when I was a kid. Those moments were among my favorite memories, so it’s always been important to me to share meals with my family.
In a study by the Hartman Group, 84% of parents say family meals are essential. Only about 50% of dinners are taken at the same time. So, what’s the disconnect? It’s always a challenge to find time to connect and spend time together as a family, but the benefits make all the difference in the world. Here are just a few of the reasons I love family dinners and meals.
As life gets busy, it’s harder to steal moments for long talks about life, the universe, and everything. Family mealtime is a time for talking about the day with its challenges and celebrations, but the wide-ranging benefits carry over into mental health and physical benefits.
As we interact and discuss the current issues of the day, real and active communication makes our kids better communicators, both now and in their future. The bonds of family and belonging are stronger as we eat together as a family.
Teaches Healthy Eating & Living
When we sit down for a meal as a family, we eat a healthy, balanced meal. According to a recent study in JAMA Network Open, the healthy habits from family meals also carry over to eating more fruits and veggies. It’s a simple way to encourage a healthy lifestyle as my kids leave home and continue with their own eating habits.
Even one or two meals a week can contribute to fewer weight issues for my kids, even a decade after they leave home. We talk about nutrition and healthy foods all the time, but food also seems to taste better when we eat together as a family. It’s such a great opportunity to try new foods and expand their range of tastes.
Family mealtime is an opportunity to share and learn as we prepare the meal together, set the table, serve up the food, and clean up afterward. It can help our kids avoid anxiety, cyberbullying, depression, and even stress. That family time helps make my kids more emotionally strong, more resilient, and even happier.
That confidence contributes to better self-esteem, but it also means that my kids are more likely to earn good grades when we eat together as a family. I think part of it is because we talk about the struggles my kids are having with their classes, and we work through solutions. We talk about anything and everything related to school, friends, and activities.
If you’re seeking therapy as a family, mealtime is a great time to reiterate and support what you’ve already discussed. Even if you’re not in therapy, time around the table is therapeutic, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Even teens say they enjoy talking and being with their family at mealtime. And it might just be easier than you might think. In her book, Eat, Laugh, Talk: The Family Dinner Playbook, Lynn Barendsen offers tools that make your family dinners full of fun, great conversation, and wonderful food.
What are your thoughts on eating dinner as a family? Tell us below!
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