Family Dinner Saves Lives!
There is a simple key to help keep your family healthy and happy. Can you guess what it is? Oh right…. I put it in the title already. The fact is that numerous studies show that the decision to eat at least one meal a day as a family can have a significant impact on you and your kids.
Family dinner can be a unique time in otherwise hectic lives. I have 4 kids who participate in soccer, piano, karate, school, plays, etc. I run a chiropractic practice, am involved with my church and do personal training in the mornings. My wife is the glue that holds us all together taking care of the kids, the house and keeping track of the finances of our business. If it weren't for text messaging we might go most of our day without ever touching base in some cases. But we always come together for family dinner. It's the best time to catch up with each member of my family even if it's between telling my boys to stop spitting food and the girls to clean their plates.
Beyond this studies have shown that family meals can make your family healthier as well. Families that eat together tend to have lower rates of obesity. This is especially true when the meals are prepared at home rather than sitting down to take-out. A family meal is a great time for parents to model healthy dietary habits for kids. Other studies show that family meals lower your child or adolescent's chances of engaging in "at risk" behaviors such as: teen pregnancy, drugs, depression, suicide, violence and sexual activity. It's not just the simple act of sitting down together.
Family meals require some level of engagement to be successful. Research shows that having the TV on during dinner can negate the positive effects of a family meal. Although I'm unaware of any specific studies I imagine the same is true of firing up the smart phone or similar devices, which I'm often guilty of. (I know my wife is ecstatic to read that last sentence and I will probably hear it over and over again).
Unfortunately, statistics show that family meals are becoming less and less common since the days when we were kids. That doesn't have to be the case for your family though. Commit to at least one family meal a day and you will wind up happier and healthier.