When you think about ways to improve the overall health of your family, does enjoying family dinner together come to mind?
According to an article by Jennifer Grant in the Baltimore Sun, Dr. Grace Freedman of eatdinner.org says family dinner is “a vital tool to address the social, emotional, physical, and mental health of kids and their parents.” Through eatdinner.org, Dr. Freedman encourages families to pledge to eat dinner together at least three times a week, although she says that sharing dinner 5 times a week is best.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that when families share meals together: teens are less likely to abuse drugs and girls are less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits or eating disorders.
Multiple studies have shown that children who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis perform better in school, eat a healthier diet overall and have higher self-esteem.
Family dinner gives parents the opportunity to model healthy eating habits and positive social interaction to their children. It also helps parents and kids develop strong relationships through communication.
When we take the time to prepare a meal together and then gather around the table to share it, we show our family members just how much we treasure them.
The dinner table should be a neutral place where each family member is free to relate their joys and struggles without judgment or condemnation. It should be a safe harbor where the storms of life can be shared, a place where families can laugh or cry with one another encourage each other over something that brings us all together – delicious and lovingly prepared food.
Do not overlook how integral sharing mealtimes is to the overall health of your family. No matter how hectic your schedule is, plan to share family dinner at least 3 nights a week and reap the benefits.