For this episode 64, we discuss the importance of family dinners. While we have mentioned this in the past, we wanted to dedicate an entire episode to it because of it’s great importance. We each had different experiences growing up and having family meals. Anne Fishel, co-founder of The Family Dinner Project and a professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote the book “Home for Dinner.” She has a great Washington Post Article in whch she provides some data and reasons why these family dinners are so important:
1) Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.
2) Adolescents who ate family meals five to seven times a week were twice as likely to get A’s in school as those who ate dinner with their families fewer than two times a week.
3) Children who eat regular family dinners also consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and micronutrients, as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks.
4) A stack of studies link regular family dinners with lowering a host of high risk teenage behaviorsparents fear: smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity. In one study of more than 5,000 Minnesota teens, researchers concluded that regular family dinners were associated with lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Dinner is the most reliable way for families to connect and find out what’s going on with each other. Kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them
A parent and child can share a positive experience – a well-cooked meal, a joke, or a story – and these small moments can gain momentum to create stronger connections away from the table.
We also discuss these 6 benefits of eating together. While this article by Jules Clancy talks about couples, it applies to families as well:
1) Eating together helps you connect
2) Eating together provides an opportunity to practice gratitude – sharing what you are thankful for
3) Eating together helps you relax – not hurrying to finish
4) Eating together encourages mindful eating – More likely to be mindful of your food – eating slower
5) Eating together improves nutrition – thinking about what would be good for the family
6) Eating together is fun – you talk, play a game, discuss your day.