Moms seemingly do it all, and there’s no shortage of things to do when you have children. With all of these activities and responsibilities, it can become hard to know what to prioritize. But we know one thing for certain, making time to eat regular meals as a family matter for many reasons. So this task of eating as a family should be high on your list!
Looking for some scientific evidence? Studies show that setting aside three or more nights a week to share regular meals as a family has many benefits for everyone involved. These benefits are not just limited to nutrition, in fact, they inspire many other healthy habits related to academics and mental health.
If you aren’t already gathering around your kitchen table at least three times a week for family mealtime, rearrange your schedule. It’s time to break out your favorite dinner plates and learn how to successfully inspire healthy habits for the whole family through regularly shared meals. Here are 5 benefits of eating meals together regularly.
1. Regular family meals prevent childhood obesity and lead to healthy nutrition habits.
As moms, we all know how difficult it can be to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. However, sharing family meals is a great opportunity to expose children to new, healthy foods and develop more healthful dietary patterns. Children who share less than two family meals per week are 40 percent more likely to be overweight. This is compared to children who share regular meals as a family, so it’s important to encourage healthy eating habits early on.
2. Regular family meals lead to better grades.
We all want our children to do well in school and there are plenty of ways to help them achieve success, like through family mealtime. Studies show children who eat between five and seven dinners with family per week are two times as likely to receive B’s or higher. The link between family dinners and better academic performance is a great reason to make family mealtime a habit!
3. Regular family meals create a stronger bond between children and their parents.
Some of the best childhood memories come from time spent creating yummy dishes in the kitchen with mom or time spent around the dinner table as a family, connecting after a busy day. Family meals offer the opportunity to stay engaged and share what is going on in each other’s lives. This is especially important for teenagers. According to a recent study, 71 percent of teenagers say catching up with members of their family is the best part of mealtime. Capitalize on this opportunity to bond with children as they grow by creating an inviting and comfortable dining space.
Whether you’re gathering around the table for dinners, birthday celebrations, or other special occasions, the central location for these traditions and bonding is your kitchen table. You might consider investing in a large contemporary dining table, like the ones seen here, with plenty of room for family game nights, holiday baking, and homework help.
Invite neighbors and friends over for dinner. This allows your children to observe social interactions and understand how to be respectful and interact with others. Making family mealtime a habit provides structure in your children’s’ lives. It also provides them with their favorite place to eat, converse, and spend time together as a family!
4. Regular family meals enhance health and lead to greater happiness.
Eating family meals not only has nutrition and academic benefits but also enhances the health and psychological well-being of adolescents. Since more conversations happen at the kitchen table, it’s no surprise that researchers found that teens who ate regular family meals were also more likely to be adjusted, and have good manners and communication skills. Also, as an added bonus for moms, this happiness extends beyond children, showing that mothers who ate regular meals with their families were less stressed and happier than those who did not. This is a win-win for everyone!
5. Regular family meals lead to teenagers making smarter choices.
Moms have a lot going on, it’s tough to know exactly what is going on in your children’s lives 24/7. But research shows that teens who have infrequent family meantimes are two times as likely to have used tobacco and almost two times as likely to have used alcohol. So as your children grow older, keep eating as a family frequent and encourage an open dialogue. This usually occurs at the dinner table so kids feel comfortable asking questions about topics like substance use. You will feel better knowing your children can be open with you and discuss tough topics. Utilize family meals as an opportunity to “check-in”. Use it for time to monitor your children’s well-being and guide them away from negative peer pressure.
Making time for eating as a family will help young children and teens learn and grow into productive, healthy adults. You and your family will also have plenty of memories to cherish and look back on. Everyone will be happy and thankful for the time spent around the table with those you love most!