In recent years, the prioritization of sitting down for a family meal has drastically decreased. Having dinner altogether may seem unimportant when your life is busy. You’re driving one kid to soccer, the other to dance, trying to balance work and family, keeping the house clean and trying to squeeze a few hours of sleep in there somewhere. We’ve learned some interesting facts around the importance of sitting down with your family around the dinner table and want to share those with you.
Experts have found that eating a family dinner is linked to benefits like maintaining a normal weight, healthy eating habits and fewer eating disorders when families eat at least three meals per week together.
Children will learn to have healthy dietary patterns, like eating more fruits and vegetables and less fast food french fries and soda. Kids who eat with their families on a daily basis have a healthier sleep pattern, are less likely to become obese and are more likely to eat healthily once they live on their own.
The benefits of having a family meal around the dinner table go even further than just eating habits. For school-aged kids, family mealtime is a predictor of high achievement in school, sports and art. Researchers have also found that students who ate a family meal at least five times a week were twice as likely to get A’s in school as students who ate dinner with their families less.
Family dinners are strongly associated with positive moods in adolescents. Studies have shown that teens who dine with their families have a more positive outlook for their future, have a lower rate of depression and suicidal thoughts and are actually at a lower risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem.
Talk About It
Family dinners encourage meaningful conversation. More talk occurs during mealtime than at any other activity throughout the day. Young children are exposed to more “rare words” when they listen to their family’s conversation. These are words that are not found on a list of 3,000 most common words. Kids with a wide vocabulary are more likely to read earlier and read more easily.
Shared mealtime nurture family relationships. Teens that have frequent meals with their whole family are likely to have excellent relationships with their family all throughout their lives.
You Don’t Have to Cook a Gourmet Meal
Now that you’re sold on the benefits of a family dinner, it’s time to make it happen. No one said that the dinner that you prepare has to be fancy and take you all day to make. There are plenty of healthy options that can be prepared in around 30 minutes! Season some chicken breasts and bake them in the oven, throw a bag of steamed veggies in the microwave and use store-bought rolls for the side. Nothing over-the-top, just simple, good food.
Create a Space Where You WANT to Dine
Again, nothing fancy here. But you will be more drawn to eat around a table that’s beautifully decorated. Find a bouquet of fresh flowers while you’re at the grocery store and light a few Pillar Candles in your favorite color. Or, line your table with Taper Candles and garland. Your dining area will feel more welcoming and it will give you a beautiful backdrop as your family facilitates meaningful conversation.
Dinner is a time for your family to reconnect, share about everyone’s day, and even learn new things about each other. The power of a regular family mealtime will last far beyond the hour that you set aside for it. Your family will be healthier, happier and have better comradery because of it.