Experts agree that sharing meals helps keep family relationships strong and encourages bonding. Click here to read about the specific benefits of sharing meals with your loved ones.
Experts everywhere agree that it is important for family members to eat at least one meal a day together as a family. If possible, work around the family members' schedule to be able to set aside a certain time to eat together.
Mealtimes are special moments when stories are shared and family memories are formed. Sharing meals helps cement family relationships and encourages bonding. Good mealtime experiences nourish the mind, body and soul.
Benefits of sharing a meal
According to university studies, families who eat together also stick together. Experts say that the beneficial impact of family mealtime has been demonstrated for children of all ages: better grades, healthier eating habits, closer relationships to parents and siblings, ability to resist negative peer pressure, and resilience in the face of life's problems.
Here are 10 benefits to eating meals together as a family.
- Children can learn to share, be polite and respect others through the mini lessons of table manners (when we say “please” and “thank you,” for example).
- Family conversations help build confidence in young children. Eating together also encourages adult-child communication skills such as listening patiently to each other and expressing one's opinion in a respectful manner. Furthermore, children who often hear adult conversation improve their vocabulary, reading test scores and speaking skills.
- Family meals can also help keep children and teenagers from developing eating disorders. Conversations slow down meals, which helps the body digest food more efficiently.
- A study at the University of Minnesota found that young girls who frequently eat with their families have better grades and fewer depressive symptoms.
- Studies report that family meals are strongly related to the development of adolescent mental health and stability. Additionally, more than a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has found that when kids eat dinner more often with their families, they are less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs.
- Mealtimes provide a setting for moral and intellectual discussion where family values are shared. A sense of belonging and mutual trust is fostered when adults and children eat together and enjoy each other's company.
- Having meals together also boosts emotional health. Laughter often happens at the dinner table. Mealtimes allow adults and children to express their feelings freely.
- When a meal is prepared at home, it will more likely be balanced and nutritious, which is better for everyone.
- When children help with meals, they learn skills such as shopping, setting the table, preparing food, serving food and cleaning up. Family meals can foster family traditions.
- Finally, family mealtimes help the members get along better. Each member becomes updated about the others' lives and is able to help each other get through difficult challenges.