What is so important about the family eating together?

If there was one thing you could do for your kids to improve communication, get better grades, reduce stress, improve health, reduce obesity and improves behavior, and saves money, would you do it?

Yes! Would you believe there is one thing you can do to achieve all of these things.

It’s eating together as a family.

Sixty years ago, the average dinner lasted 90 minutes, and the average dinner meal lasted 12 minutes or less!

Science and research have clearly stated, time and again, that families that eat together are healthier mentally and physically. It is one of the simplest yet, at times, ways to improve families, but it can also be one of the hardest things to manage. One of the most important questions I ask when working with families is “Where do you eat?” and “With who?”

Research has shown that eating together as a family is one of the best things a parent can do to help their children be healthy mentally and physically.

Families who eat together:

  • Eat healthier
  • Have better grades
  • Less risk of obesity
  • Better relationships with their parents
  • Saves money
  • Teaches kids responsibility.
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps with establishing a routine
  • Better behavior

10 Benefits of eating together as a family

  1. Communication:- Makes time together as a family. Family time can be a premium with school, sports, work, and other commitments.
  2. Better grades-— A Reader’s Digest survey of more than 2,000 parents compared academic achievement with family characteristics. Surprisingly, eating meals together was a stronger predictor of academic success than whether the children lived with one or two parents.
  3. Routine: younger kids benefit from the security and routine of eating with family. It also gives tweens and teens the time and structure needed in their day.
  4. Reduces stress- Often, stress can come from poor communication; this gives families the time to communicate and resolve issues.
  5. Improved health- Families that eat together are healthier-A 2000 survey found that kids ages 9-14 who eat with their families ate more fruits and vegetables. A study by Gillman et al. in 2000 showed that an increased frequency of family dinners was also associated with substantially higher intake of several nutrients, including fiber, calcium, folate, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C, and E; lower glycemic load; and a lower intake of saturated and trans fat as a percentage of energy.
  6. Obesity: Kids that eat with their parents and help with meals are less likely to be obese or overweight.
  7. Eating at home saves money- Eating out costs money. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average family in 2018 who earned approximately $78,000 a year spent $7923 on food. Of this, $4464 was spent at home, and $3459 was spent away from home; approximately 13% of a family budget was spent on food. The average restaurant meal has 60% more calories than the homemade version. They contain more calories and are more likely to be a more significant portion than you would serve yourself at home.
  8. Portion control- Homemade meals promote portion control. Kids can select how much or how little when they serve themselves.
  9. Kids are looking for their parent’s time- Many kids enjoy the time eating with their parents but don’t know how to express that.
  10. Behavior: Children learn to behave at a table by watching their parents. It teaches manners and how to communicate with siblings and adults.

Can eating together as a family be enjoyable?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Getting the family together can be stressful and a lot of work. This is especially true after a long day.

Although it can be a daunting task to get dinner together, the benefits of eating together will reap benefits that last a lifetime.

Sixty years ago, the average dinner lasted 90 minutes! The average dinner now last 12 minutes or less!

Twelve tips on how to make eating together as a family more enjoyable:

Twelve tips on how to make eating together as a family more enjoyable:

  1. Keep the table clear of clutter and debris. Clear a space where the family can enjoy a meal.
  2. Plan- Having an idea of what is for dinner and preparing it as much as possible makes mealtime less stressful.
  3. Use convenience appliances- A crockpot or Insta-Pot can really cut down on meal prep and make the simplest of recipes taste amazing. Save
  4. Be sure to communicate when dinner will be served. When people know what time dinner is, they can plan their day around it. Communicating is key to success. If dinner will be at a different time than planned, let everyone know.
  5. Serve family style – Let kids serve themselves to learn how to manage their hunger and full cues.
  6. Have kids help- get dinner ideas from the kids or other family members. Let kids plan the meals and create shopping lists. Also, have kids look at grocery flyers so the items they choose can be on sale. It teaches about budgeting, organization, and planning.
  7. Have kids help with meal-related chores- planning meals, setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, and teaching them responsibility,
  8. Keep it simple- It’s not only what you feed your kids but how you feed your kids. The more simple it is, the more likely it will be done. Use paper plates, have a sandwich bar or breakfast for dinner. Dinner doesn’t always have to look like a Pinterest win; sometimes, the best stories are the Pinterest fails.
  9. Don’t invite the food police- Remember that dinner is supposed to be enjoyable, not an arena for anyone’s perceived shortcomings
  10. Ask open-ended questions. What was the best part of your day? What made you laugh? What made you frustrated? What made you smile? Did you learn anything new?
  11. Start with one meal at a time- If you are not used to eating together, pick one day a week and go from there, perhaps a weekend. If you are used to eating together more, then pick a different meal like lunch or breakfast; there may be different perspectives throughout the day.
  12. Turn off all electronics- Remove the distraction of electronics or the TV. It can distract from the conversation and distract from paying attention to what you are eating.

15 Simple family Meals that everyone will like

  • Taco bar
  • Bake potato bar
  • Sandwich bar
  • Panini bar
  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Soups- there are a variety of soups that are easy to make and heat and reserve
  • Chili
  • Spaghettis and meatballs
  • Lasagna
  • Make your own pizzas
  • Crepes savory or sweet
  • Quiches
  • Wraps
  • Leftovers- Try a fridge forage to see what can be eaten
  • Charcuterie- Create a tray of cheeses, crackers, fruits, and vegetables, and let the family pick and choose.

Don’t forget the crockpot or Instant-Pot

taco bar for family meal time