The Family Dinner Table Adds Value

In the hurried pace of life in the 21st Century, we often fail to sit down together for family meals. That failure negatively affects the health and well-being of our families.

With music lessons, sports practice, play rehearsal and work schedules, it’s easy to skip family meals. But research shows that eating as a family has great benefits for your children and teen-agers.

Here are some of the reasons why you should try to sit down together at least five or six times a week, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for the family to bond, plan, connect and learn from one another. It’s a chance to share information and news of the day. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging.

Family mealtime offers an opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette and social skills. Keep the mood light, relaxed and loving.

Family meals offer the chance to encourage children to try new foods. It’s easy to introduce a new food along with some of the stand-by favorites. Trying a new food is like starting a new hobby. It expands your child’s knowledge, experience and skill.

Meals prepared and eaten at home usually are more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium and vitamins. Home cooked meals are usually not highly salted, plus soda and sweetened beverage consumption is usually lower at the dinner table.

Children today are missing out on the importance of knowing how to plan and prepare meals. Basic cooking, baking and food preparation are necessities for being self-sufficient. Involve your family in menu planning, grocery shopping and food preparation.

Research shows that eating together at least five times a week is associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking and illegal drug use in pre-teens and teen-agers when compared to families that eat together two or fewer times per week.

Children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Teen-agers who eat dinner four or more times per week with their families have higher academic performance compared with teen-agers who eat with their families two or fewer times per week.

Meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home.

Sharing meals together gives everyone a sense of identity. It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions and memories that can last a lifetime.

Make time to eat together – your whole family will benefit.