Eating together as a family used to be the norm, but thanks to the fast pace of modern life it can often feel like a luxury. This also means that when more pressing matters arise it is easy to skip dinner with the family in favor of something on the go.
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In addition, as children grow up, they develop their own hobbies and interests that make it difficult to get all of them to sit down together for a meal. Even if you do accomplish this, there are so many other distractions, such as phones, tablets and other devices that are all vying for everyone’s attention. While all of these factors might discourage you from even bothering to have a family dinner, it is something that should definitely not be overlooked. In fact, here are just some compelling reasons why it is worth the effort to make dinner time with your family a priority.
1. The Meal Will Typically Be More Nutritional
Grabbing food on the go can be very unhealthy due to the generally higher amounts of salt, fat and caloric content found in meals that are eaten outside of the home. On the other hand, meals that are eaten at home tend to be more nutritious. In fact, studies have shown that families who share three or more mealtimes weekly are much more likely to have healthy dietary and eating patterns compared to those who don’t. It was also found that the weight ranges of children as well as adolescents who take part in regular family dinners are more likely to be normal.
2. It Strengthens The Family Bond
Eating a family dinner together at home is about more than just the food and the health benefits. It is also an opportunity for the family to come together and strengthen their bonds. A family dinner is the perfect chance for children to take part in their cultural tradition and to learn about their heritage as well as their family history. Even preparing for the meal can be a bonding experience if you can get your children to assist with the cooking. Doing so enables you to teach them some basic cooking skills, which will be valuable to them later in life. As long as you focus on age-appropriate ways in which they can help you with the food it will help them to become involved. Other issues, such as teens struggling with eating disorders can be identified quicker if family dinners are a regular occurrence.
3. It Opens Up Channels Of Communication
Enjoying dinner at home as a family can open up communication between parents and children, but this means banning phones and other electronic devices from the dinner table. Parents and children can then talk about the events that took place in their day and learn from each other. It is important to encourage everybody to take part in these conversations to ensure that nobody feels excluded or unimportant. Children can also benefit from learning table manners and social skills during family dinners. There are even intellectual benefits to eating dinner at home as doing so can enhance the vocabulary of younger children if they participate in the conversation.
4. It Is More Cost-Effective And Less Time Consuming Than Eating Out
Although grabbing takeaways sounds like a more convenient way of doing things it is not always as efficient as you might think. Planning your family meals ahead will save a lot of time and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, according to the data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the money that Americans spend at restaurants per month is actually exceeding their monthly grocery bills. This means that dedicating more evenings to family dinners will result in a substantial saving in the long run.
5. It Is A Great Way To Relieve Stress
A family dinner is a great time to unwind and forget about all the stress or worries of your other duties. It is not just parents who can benefit from this, but children as well. While dinner can be a time to discuss serious topics it should also be something where everyone can feel relaxed. Encourage children to tell stories and laugh so that it becomes something that everyone looks forward to. According to one study, family rituals and routines, such as dinners together, can lower the anxiety levels of children with asthma and cause a reduction in symptoms.
6. It Exposes Your Children To New Foods
If you want to expand the taste of your children and expose them to new foods, a family meal is the ideal setting. Getting children to eat healthy foods can be a daunting process, but family dinners can help. It takes a while for children to warm up to new food, but by starting with small portions and making it a regular part of the meal, it will become familiar to them. You can even cheat a little and make new food in a way that seems familiar to children. Seeing the adults around them enjoying the food also sets a good example for children.
7. You Can Exercise Better Portion Control
Because of more two-income households and higher incomes, it is also now more common for families to eat out at a restaurant instead of home. While this might sound positive, as the family is still united around a table, you lack the portion control that would be possible by eating at home. Studies have shown that as the restaurant industry has grown, so has the portion sizes of meals. In fact, the average restaurant meal is about four times larger than what was served in the 1950s. This is why there is a direct link between regularly eating at restaurants and increased body fat among adults. Many restaurants offer larger portion sizes at lower prices as a marketing tool, but this has skewed the perspective people have of what an average portion size is. Eating at home gives you full control over serving sizes, which is healthier for the entire family.
8. It Provides A Sense Of Security
Making the family dinner part of a regular household routine can provide the younger members with a greater sense of security. Because they are included in these dinners it will also foster a feeling of belonging in the family. Studies performed by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse even found that there is a strong link between family dinners and teen substance use prevention. It also helps to boost the motivation and self-esteem of children thanks to the security provided by family meals. These days children deal with all kinds of problems that were not as prevalent in their parent’s generation, such as cyberbullying, and family dinners can help them to cope better.