3 Reasons to Eat Dinner as a Family

Image source: Little Green Notebook

Over the years, eating dinner as a family has become more of a luxury than the norm.

Working parents and their children’s increasingly busy schedules make it incredibly difficult to plan and prepare a meal – let alone eat it as a family.

However, studies show that many families want to make dinnertime family time, and for good reason. In 2012, 59% of surveyed families ate dinner together at least five times a week – an increase from previous reports which showed only 47% in 1998. It makes sense why more and more families are making an effort to find time in their busy schedules for family dinner. There are a number of great benefits of eating together that can positively impact all members of the family.

Gather around! —The benefits of family dinner

 

Good health

Image source: Little Green Notebook

Research shows that children and families who eat regular meals together maintain healthier habits throughout their lives. Kids who eat at home with family are more likely to consume whole foods rich in vitamins and micronutrients, and maintain healthier weights.

 

Socialization

Image source: Little Green Notebook

Healthier eating habits aside, sitting down for dinner together often has a number of social and developmental benefits as well. In fact, studies show that the social aspects of eating meals together are considered some of the most valuable among family members.

A 2013 survey showed that 92% of people who ate dinner with their families at least once a week described family mealtime as something they looked forward to, offering a chance for healthy conversation. Teenagers specifically indicated that they were most likely to talk to their parents over a meal.

Stress reduction

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Children and teens aren’t the only ones who can benefit, either. A study on working moms showed that eating dinner as a family can serve as a way to wind down and de-stress after a long day.

How to make the most of dinner with family

Image source: Little Green Notebook

Family meals don’t have to be elaborate events, especially if time is limited. Following a few simple tips can help make the most of your time together:

  • Keep it simple. When it comes to meal prep, don’t overdo it. There’s no need to prepare a complicated dinner every night. Basic meals you can throw together in under 30 minutes are often the most nutritious and can save you time in a busy day.
  • Spark conversation. Research has shown that dinnertime conversation can increase young children’s vocabulary more than being read to.
  • Practice good manners. Children are likely to pick up good habits when it comes to conversation, manners and mealtime etiquette when at the table with family.
  • Ask questions. Dinnertime is the perfect opportunity to connect at the end of the day and stay informed about each other’s daily lives. Especially with teens, this can help keep the lines of communication open.
  • Put away the phones. Cell phones and television can create distractions that prevent familial bonding. Try to eat dinner in the dining room or away from the TV, and set boundaries for using phones and video games during dinner.
  • Relax and engage. Create a warm, open environment that encourages everyone to participate in conversation – even the shyest of family members.
  • Don’t sweat it! Family mealtimes don’t have to be perfect. Try to relax and enjoy the time spent together gathered around the table.
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