Link copied to clipboard

My great-grandmother had a red bell.  She used it everyday to announce a very important event: dinnertime.  A time when everyone in the family joined together, gathered around the table, and ate.  Dinnertime was a priority. All work stopped, after-school activities were over, adults were home from work and the phone and TV were silenced.  The family gathered and discussed the events of their day.  It was a time, in modern terms, to download, to debrief, to get centered and figure things out.  Mealtimes were therapeutic– healthy and good for you in more ways than one.

Magic can happen when families gather at the meal table.  For instance, family meals have been shown to be a powerful influence on many facets of childhood–growth, development, social adjustment, behavior, eating habits, and body weight. 

Read on for the magic that happens with family meals:

Attachment:  Children of families that eat meals together feel more supported, secure, and safe, as long as mealtimes are kept a pleasant experience for all.

Behavior: Family meals are a great way to teach manners, promote communication, and prevent or address behavioral problems.

Reciprocity:  Conversation, both talking and listening, helps build connection and cohesion (family members sticking together) which may be more important than the food which is served or where your family eats.

Adjustment: Children who eat with their families at least 3 times a week show better social skills and an ability to navigate social situations.

Trust:  Family meals promote trust between child and parent. The child trusts that the parent will provide a timely and tasty meal in a pleasant environment and the parent trusts that the child knows how much to eat and what food appeals to their taste buds– both key elements in nurturing healthy eating.

Academics:  Research shows the more a family eats together, the better grades kids get.

Development:  Healthy and positive family meals encourage greater eating of fruits, vegetables and dairy products, which in turn increases the likelihood of a healthy weight and normal growth in children.

Social Graces:  Manners are learned at the meal table–sitting down together for family meals on a regular basis allows plenty of teaching time to help your child learn their manners.

Not Just Dinner:  Any meal will do!  Dinner isn’t the only opportunity for a family meal. If you can’t make it to the dinner table, schedule breakfast or lunch, or even snacks together.

Relations: A positive relationship with food and eating can be cultivated at the meal table.  These life-long attitudes, beliefs, and flexibility with food begin early in life, with the meal table taking center stage.

With the world moving at a faster pace and competition for your family’s attention coming from all angles, family meals can be one of the primary ways families can connect, communicate and stay bound together.

If you are challenged in the area of getting your family around the meal table, you are not alone! Check out our quick and easy family meal ideas for new ideas and inspiration. At remember, just start where you are and increase by one. If you are getting your family around the table twice a week, shoot for three times. Baby steps will get your there faster than a radical dinner overhaul.