Surprising Research About The Importance of Eating Meals Together

Trailmap for Life
Eating meals together as a family has some impressive benefits. What do your family's meal-time routines look like?

Our families are our “Teams for Life”. And like any team, it’s important to keep our bonds with each other as strong as possible. One easy way to do this is simply by eating meals together.
Many families find that talking about each person’s highs and lows for the day helps them keep up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.
There’s some powerful research from the University of Florida that shows that having dinner together as a family at least four times a week has an impressive list of benefits, including:
  • Lower risks of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and high-risk behaviors
  • Increased chance of graduating from high school
  • Expanded vocabulary and reading ability
  • Positive impact on children's values, motivation, personal identity, and self-esteem

Be An Active Listener

To make the most of your family mealtime, it helps to turn off the TV and phones during dinner. Take time to discuss each person’s day, and maybe talk about current events and news that are appropriate for your child’s age. Many families find that talking about each person’s highs and lows for the day helps them keep up with what’s going on in each other’s lives. Be an active listener and encourage your child(ren) to listen to other family members as well.
 

Share the Responsibility of Cooking and Cleaning

As often as possible, cook as a family and include everyone in the preparation and clean up process. You could experiment with fun recipes or create new ones of your own, or remake old recipes with healthier alternatives. Try having themed cuisine nights and cook fun themed meals. Find meals that you enjoy and cook them on a regular basis, making sure to try and spend at least an hour eating dinner, talking, and cleaning up together.

At a minimum, make it a point to ensure that you are eating at least four family dinners together each week—you’ll be glad you did! 
 
 

This article is an excerpt from CCA’s Trailmap for Life program which helps parents prepare your teens for life. There are five fun and powerful sessions parents and teens do together with successful approaches in managing life’s toughest topics. Classes begin March 20, 2019. Click here to learn more!
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