While the primary use of food is to nourish our bodies, it is also eaten for various other reasons, such as expressing love. In line with the theme of Valentine’s Day, eating as a family is one way to show others how much you care. Here are 7 benefits of eating as a family:
- It encourages healthier eating habits.
- Teens who eat with family are more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and sugary beverages.
- It can help prevent mental health disorders.
- Frequent family dinners can prevent issues with eating disorders, alcohol and substance use, violent behavior, depression, and suicidal thoughts in adolescents.
- It may prevent adulthood weight struggles.
- Families should attempt to gather for at least one or two meals each week to help protect their kids from weight struggles later in life.
- It can improve children’s self-esteem.
- By encouraging children to talk about their day, parents are communicating that they value and respect their children, which helps boost confidence.
- It can improve communication skills.
- The social interaction and discussions of current issues at the table can make kids better communicators.
- It may help kids with bullying.
- Teens who eat dinner with their families (ideally four or more times each week) tend to experience fewer problems as a result of being bullied. Regular family contact facilitates more parental guidance and open communication between kids and their parents.
- It can supplement family therapy.
- For families who are undergoing therapy together, their shared dinner habits can provide valuable insights into their dynamics to therapists. In addition, families can be encouraged to take lessons learned during therapy to the dinner table, experimenting with new roles and communication patterns.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Submitted by Ashley Wild