Story by: Nikki Boyd on November 4, 2016
When is the last time you and your family sat down at the table together for a family meal? If family mealtime is a rare occurrence in your home, now’s the time to make it a regular routine.
Studies show that family mealtime has benefits for both the mind and the body. Some researchers even go as far as to say that family mealtime is one of the most important things you can do for your child.
Children and teens who grow up in families that regularly eat meals together are more likely to have family support, positive peer influences and positive adult role models. This can boost a child’s self-image, motivation, school engagement, values and communication.
Studies also indicate that there are academic benefits to dinnertime conversations. Young children learn more vocabulary words from the dinner table than from being read aloud to. Regular mealtime for school-age children is a stronger predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.
Shared family meals are more likely to be balanced with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This can lead to lifelong healthy eating habits. Additionally, teens who regularly take part in family meals are less apt to engage in high-risk health behaviors, such as drink alcohol, use drugs, or smoking.
It’s important to note that family mealtime should be free from distractions, such as television and electronic devices; and for the most benefit, the atmosphere should be warm and engaging. Family mealtime should be the one time of the day where family members can open up about their day in a positive way.
Tips for making the most of your family mealtime
Sources: The Washington Post; the Journal of the American Dietetic Association
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