The Benefits of Eating Together as a Family


Family meals aren’t just for holidays – many families now adjust their individual schedules in order to enjoy evening meals together several nights a week. Research proves that pleasant table talk while passing plates of nutritious food builds stronger relationships and brings families closer together.

The health of your family is affected when you all eat together. Taking time to plan and prepare meals that are eaten at home guarantees a more nutritious diet for everyone at the table. In some homes, every family member takes part in the planning, preparation and serving, so each person has a stake in the success of each meal.

Here are some ideas to encourage every person to play a part:

• Choose themes for some meals, such as Meatless Monday, Festival of Italy or Taco Night.

• Consult recipes, make a list of needed ingredients, and appoint a designated shopper.

• Encourage young children to design placemats or menus for the table.

• Rotate responsibility for introducing interesting topics over dinner.

• Take turns clearing the table and cleaning up after the meal.

In one recent study, nearly half of teens and parents agreed that during or after dinner is the best time to talk about personal topics. Another study shows that teens who eat frequent meals with their families have better relationships with their peers, do better in school, and have fewer problems with drugs and depression.

Young children reap benefits from family meals too. The youngest develop language skills as they listen to table talk, and older tots learn the value of taking turns to share the news of the day. Children of all ages – and even adults – always appreciate focused attention and time to laugh together. Where better to find that than around the family dinner table?

Why not start tonight?