There are many reasons for doing this and it's not as easy as it sounds. We have 3 kids, a boy of 10, a girl of 22 months and a boy of 10 months. Some days it is impossible to have a family meal together. What with baby feeds, naps, GAA practice, homework, football practice, starting and running a business - all of these things make it very hard to have a well planned meal time! But it's worth trying because..........well, read on.
Pediatricians believe that having regular family meals improves a child's confidence and sense of well being, not to mention improving their conversational skills.
Often the dinner table is the only time that a family can properly talk about each persons day and to have that sense of togetherness.
This study showed that adolescents who had the most shared family meals when growing up, had higher intakes of fruits and vegetables into adulthood. The reason behind this is that shared family meals are an opportunity to put healthy foods in front of children (and teens) and then to establish healthier eating patterns for the long term.
Other studies show a similar pattern. For example it has been shown here that having 3 or more shared meals per week has the following benefits:
"Benefits include a reduction in the odds for overweight (12%), eating unhealthy foods (20%), and disordered eating (35%) and an increase in the odds for eating healthy foods (24%)".
Ireland is set to be the fattest nation in Europe by 2020 and part (but not all) of the problem is that we aren't sitting down together to eat family meals cooked from scratch anymore!!
In France and Italy in particular the family meal is held in high regard. Gathering around the table to share a meal is like a second religion it's that important. France and Italy have much lower rates of obesity when compared to the UK and Ireland - no small coincidence. It doesn't have to be just immediate family, think of extended family and friends too.
Whether it's with kids, family or friends, encourage active participation in meal prep. Even if it's just setting the table, everyone should have some part to play. Sharing the load makes eating together a much easier experience.
Sitting down around the table takes families away from their screens and encourages real interaction. It also encourages slower eating and this has many benefits for your digestive health.
One of the main reasons for me writing these tweaks and blogs is to make a positive impact on people's health. That is the reason that my wife and I set up The Wholefood Revolution. Our recipe box service is designed to make shared eating of home-cooked meals as easy and healthy as possible. It takes all the hassle and planning out of home cooked meals. It helps you try new tastes and develop your cooking skills.
Take a look at our new healthy recipe box service - Now delivering to Ratoath, Dunboyne, Ashbourne, Clonee and Dunshaughlin.