Before the hectic school year begins again, it’s the perfect time to remind families to continue eating meals together. For Family Meals Month in August, Hospitality Health ER highlights the importance of sharing meals. According to studies, eating together four or more times a week has many proven benefits.
#1. Nutritional Health. Mealtimes give parents the chance to teach their children healthy food behavior and attitudes. Don’t just eat with them. Ask your kids to help you plan healthy meals, preparing the food, and cooking. By involving them in the entire process, your kids will gain the skills they need to maintain healthy eating habits all the way through adulthood. Studies have shown that families who eat dinner together eat fewer fried foods and drink less soda. Instead, they reach for healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, and healthy protein sources. Rates of obese children were also lower in families who had frequent family dinners together.
#2. Social Skills. Benefits of eating together include the opportunity to connect with one another, unite the family, and establish stability. If you have children in their adolescent years, this sacred time with them can help develop their social-emotional development skills, such as coping mechanisms when a problem arises. Meals together give your kids, and all family members, a chance to check-in with other family members, and get advice or emotional support.
#3. Adolescent Well-Being. Research has also suggested that frequent family meals may decrease adolescent engagement in risky behavior, especially for female adolescents. Female adolescents who ate family dinners most days of the week were less likely to have eating disorders that involve purging, binge-eating, and frequent dieting.