9 Scientifically Proven Reasons to Eat Dinner as a FamilyNone None
Courtesy of almost every family sitcom made in the last 60 years, the family dinner as we know it is an occasion for meatloaf, mashed potatoes, at least one fight over the salt shaker, and a few failed attempts at finding out how school was. Though cliche, this familiar scene highlights an important part of being a family, a meaningful gathering, a sacred time - dinner. With family dinners on the decline and 59% of Americans reporting that their family today has fewer family dinners than when they were growing up, perhaps it’s time to turn the tables. These nine science-based reasons are proof that, meatloaf or not, family dinners are important.
Family Dinners Mean Better Family Relationships
Eating meals together has the potential to strengthen family bonds as it provides a daily time for the whole family to be together. For younger children, routine family meals can provide a sense of security and a feeling of belonging in the family. Older children and teenagers, too, prefer eating together as a family. In a recent Columbia University study, 71% of teenagers said they consider talking, catching-up, and spending time with family members as the best part of family dinners.
Family Meals Lead to Healthier Food Choices
Eating family dinners is associated with healthy dietary food patterns. A 2000 survey found that the nine to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently consumed more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber. Matthew W. Gillman, MD, the survey’s lead researcher, noted that family dinners allow for both "discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods."
Eating as a Family Leads to Better Grades
Studies have proven that there’s a significant link between family dinners and academic performance. A report by CASA found that teens who have between five and seven family dinners per week were twice as likely to report receiving mostly A’s and B’s in school, compared to those teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week. In addition, only 9% of teens who ate frequently with their families did poorly in school, according to the report.
Family Dinners Are a Chance to Explore New Foods
Family meals have proven to be perfect opportunities for parents to expose children to different foods a