There are plenty of reasons why families eat few meals together and more meals away from home, and most of them come down to convenience. Kids have to eat before/after a practice, game, or other activity; mom or dad stay late at the office; parents not very handy or confident in the kitchen preparing meals. When families eat their meals together, lots of good things can happen, including preventing obesity and its associated physical and mental health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and depression. Our friends at Kiddie Academy present some other benefits:
- Researchers found that dinnertime conversations help boost vocabulary for young children (even more than being read aloud to!).
- For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.
- Adolescents who ate family meals five to seven times a week were twice as likely to get A’s in school as those who ate dinner with their families fewer than two times a week.
- Children who eat regular dinner with their families consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and nutrients, as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks.
- In a survey, American teens were asked when they were most likely to talk with their parents: dinner was their top answer.
- One study states that kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them.
How often does your family unit eat dinner together? How often do you have that important meal together at home instead of at a restaurant or drive-through? Even if you have kitchen talent, how much time do you actually have to spend preparing family meals? How you answer each of these questions may impact the health of every individual in your family.