For many families, demanding work schedules, school and a long list of extracurricular activities can make it difficult to carve out time to sit down and eat together. In our busy culture it is easy to go days or even weeks without sitting down to share a meal as a family. However, research shows that the benefits of having regular family meals are far reaching.
- Regular family meals result in lower rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents.
- Family meals have been shown to be more nutritious. Families who eat together are twice as likely to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily when compared to families who don’t eat together.
- Family dinners have also been linked to higher grade point averages and improved self esteem in children.
- Regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression.
Here are some great tips to help increase family meals
- Make family meals a priority in your home and focus on the importance of sitting down and being together rather than on making an elaborate meal.
- Research shows that eating dinner together 5 nights per week has great benefits but it’s a good idea to start with small steps. Increase the number of family meals you share by one extra meal per week and work your way up from there.
- Get the whole family involved in coming up with a meal plan and making a grocery list for the week.
- Work together as a family to clean up afterwards.
- Turn off the TV and other electronic devices at the table. Family meals eaten in front of the TV don’t carry the same benefits as those eaten without distraction.
- Family meals don’t have to occur at dinner time. If your family finds breakfast or weekend lunches easier and more convenient for getting together plan family meals at these times instead.