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.
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.
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