Benefits of eating meals together as a family

Tips on how to get the whole family at the table to take advantage of the benefits family meals offer.

February 5, 2014 - Author: Tracie Abram, Tracie Abram, Michigan State University Extension

Many families struggle to find quality family time. Work and school schedules and extra-curricular activities consume a families time fast, and finding a few hours each week to spend together can be a difficult objective. Preparing and eating a few meals each week can provide that quality family time.

Michigan State University Extension says that simply eating a meal together at the table without any distractions can provide many benefits:

  • Family togetherness – Provides a sense of belonging in the family, and representation of ethnic, cultural or religious heritage of the family.
  • Communication – Provides opportunities for families to develop better communication skills, and provides parents with the opportunity to teach social skills, table manners and basic cooking skills.
  • Wellbeing – Regular family meals are related to better adjustment in children and youth. When a child is given permission to self-regulate their meal portions/intake, they tend to stay attuned to their bodies hunger-satisfy signals and are more positive about eating.
  • Nutrition Families that eat together are more likely to eat healthier foods, dine out less and are more likely to serve fruits and vegetables.

Gathering everyone around the table for a meal is not an easy task if not accustomed to this routine. Like learning anything new, it takes commitment and time. Here are a few tips on how to get the whole family to the table:

  • Make shared meals a priority – emphasize the importance of family time
  • Start small – start by scheduling two or three meals per week, then add more once accustomed
  • Make family meals fun – include everyone in preparation, play communication games
  • Keep child’s preferences in consideration
  • Keep it balanced – serve a meal consisting of three to four food groups
  • Be patient and practical

Eating together as a family is more than just a meal! It is an opportunity for family members to come together regularly in support of family unity. This is a learned behavior. Discover today, what the benefits are of planning, preparing or eating a meal together is for your family.

Tags: family, food & health, healthy relationships, msu extension

Michigan State University Michigan State University Close Menu button Menu and Search button Open Close