Today’s hectic lifestyle has us on the go or in front of a screen for most of our day. Either we’re rushing the kids to soccer practice, dance class or karate or we’re trying to knock out the chores that are part of daily life – laundry, food shopping and cleaning. Finding time to get everyone together to eat may seem nearly impossible. But scheduling family dinners is worth the time.
Children of families who eat dinner together at the table tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. It is often said that you need to try a food ten times before you like it. A dinner time routine is the perfect opportunity to introduce your children (or spouse) to a variety of foods. Additionally, obesity is less common among families who reported eating meals together more often. Not only are meals prepared at home less calorically dense, but eating at the table as opposed to in the car or in front of the TV is correlated with eating smaller portions. Eating in front of the TV causes us to become distracted and miss the natural fullness cues from our bodies -- and this can lead to overeating.
There are psychosocial benefits to eating together too. Families who eat together build stronger relationships and have better communication. Children are less likely to get involved in risky behaviors like drugs and alcohol and less likely to develop eating disorders. In addition, strengthening communication skills at the dinner table can help children expand their vocabulary and lead to better grades in school.
If you’re looking to improve your dinner time routine but need some direction; look no further than The Family Dinner Project. The Family Dinner Project is a non-profit organization working with Harvard University. Their website offers tools for dinner time conversation ideas and games and tips for overcoming conflicting schedules to improve the frequency of quality mealtimes.
Bottom Line: The quality time around the dinner table is great for your brain, spirit and health.
Written by: Laura Dutra, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Advances in Nutrition
2. The Family Dinner Project