Happy is said to be the family which can eat onions together. They are, for the time being, separate, from the world, and have a harmony of aspiration.” ~ Charles Dudley Warner
Over the past two decades, multiple studies have proven what parents were already suspecting: eating together as a family does wonders for body, mind, and soul.
Teenagers who share meals with their family are reported to be less depressed, have fewer eating disorders, and incur fewer instances of substance abuse. They also exhibit higher self-esteem and do better at school than their peers who don’t gather at the table with their families to share a meal.
For younger children, conversation with family during dinner proves to be a simple way to boost vocabulary. Sitting at the table and eating together as a family is also an ideal opportunity for young children to practise how to behave in social settings.
Eating at the table, in itself, has its health benefits. Studies show that where a child eats can affect his or her chances of becoming overweight. Researchers in the US studied children aged two to five from over 100 daycare centres. Results reveal that children who eat meals at the table, and who are allowed to serve themselves, are less likely to be overweight than children who are served a plateful of food in front of the TV.
The study reports that when foods are pre-plated, children never learn to read their body’s hunger cues. Also, parents shouldn’t pressure children to finish a serving because it can encourage them to overeat.
If you’re feeling guilty or frustrated because eating dinner together every night is simply not an option for your family, don’t despair. Sharing a meal can happen at breakfast, lunch, after-dinner snack time, or even at brunch over the weekend.
Eating together doesn’t have to happen every day. What’s important is that all family members find time to sit together at the table, share a meal, chat, and enjoy each other’s company.