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Benefits of the Family Dinner

Benefits of Family Dinner

When I was growing up my family almost always ate together at the dinner table.  We’re Basque, and like many immigrant families from old-world Europe, my ancestors brought a profound love of cooking and eating.  A couple generations later food continues to be one of life’s simple joys for our family and one that brings us together.

That’s why I think it’s so unfortunate that so many families today don’t take time to eat together.  Not only is it a fundamental joy, but it also has tons of benefits for children.  Here are five reasons why your family should eat dinner together as often as possible:

It makes you and your family healthier 

Family meals tend to include much more fruits and vegetables, and much less soda and fried foods, than meals eaten outside of the home.  As a result, studies show that children who eat more often with their families are much less likely to be overweight than those that don’t.  As an added benefit, the same goes for the rest of the family; if Mom and Dad are trying to trim their tummies, they’ll also benefit from more home-cooked meals.

It makes your kids smarter

Research shows that kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to get A’s and B’s than those that don’t.  In addition, such children tend to learn how to read earlier and show more motivation in school.  It’s nothing magical; family conversations are simply the easiest way for young ones to pick up on vocabulary and practice effective communication.  To make the most of your family meals, turn off the TV and talk!  It’ll not only bring your family closer, but stimulate your children intellectually.

It’ll keep your kids away from drugs

A report from the Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse says that children who eat at least five meals a week at home with the family are far less likely to experiment with drugs.  There are lots of explanations: kids who spend time at the dinner table aren’t spending time unsupervised outside of the home.  Parents who eat with their children tend to be more involved in general.  Children who spend more time with the family have a clearer sense of expectations and good citizenship.  No matter what the reason why, simply eating together can help keep your kids out of trouble.

It makes kids feel more supported

In a survey given to children living at home, kids were asked if they felt that their parents were proud of them.  Those that ate the majority of their meals at home were far more likely to answer yes.  This spawned a whole list of side benefits, like lower incidences of behavioral issues at school and fewer eating disorders.

It’s what your kids really want

Some parents struggle to get their kids to open up and engage in family meals, especially if they’re feeding teenagers.  Studies actually give some surprising insights into how your kids look at family dinners though.  71% of teenagers say that connecting with family members is the best part of dinnertime, and the majority of teens who eat three or fewer meals a week with their families wish they did so more often.  Even if your teen seems resistant to meal time, be persistent and you just might be pleasantly surprised.

For many parents, hectic lifestyles, conflicting schedules, and picky tastebuds make it difficult to bring the family together for meals around the dinner table.  As this list shows though, it’s totally worth it.  Commit to adding one more family meal a week and go from there.  You’ll be glad you did!

This is a guest post: Garin Etcheberry is a foodie, entrepreneur, and travel junkie from Portland, Oregon.  He runs UncreativeChef where he helps families share the joy of eating through a unique grocery/recipe delivery service.  Check it out at

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  1. Garin says:

    I talked to a lady from Georgia (the country) yesterday and she was telling me about the supra, a traditional Georgian feast. It was fascinating learning about how they savor each other’s company, eating, drinking, and singing together, making elaborate toasts and telling stories. It sounded really fun. In addition to all of the scientific benefits I listed in the article above, eating together is just a great way to savor some of the simple joys in life. I think we often forgot then compared to our European ancestors.

  2. Martha says:

    Eating together with the family is a good thing towards a good and strong family relationship. Somehow when a family eats together, they can do communication at the same time, sort of giving guidance especially for children. Parents can also monitor and guide their children towards good and healthy eating habit.

  3. Megan says:

    It is a very good way to bond. Celebrating life with delicious food and beside everyone you love is truly special. It keeps everyone connected and you can easily communicate with the family if you eat together. I hope every family makes sure that they have dinner together. This is healthy, not only emotionally but it is beneficial in every aspect of our lives.

  4. Jadey Sam says:

    I love having the whole family for dinner. Best time to catch up on each other.

  5. When growing up, we never ate dinner as a family. I feel it is important too to have meals as a family. My husband is usually the one working because of his crazy hours but whoever is home sits together at the dinner table.

  6. We made every attempt to eat together as often as possible. Now that our kids are grown, they make fun and laugh about so many things from around the table.

  7. Amber edwards says:

    We always had dinner together as a family growing up. It was really easy to implement when we got a family of our own. It really does make a difference.

  8. mel says:

    Eating as a family is so important! We try to do it every night but sometimes it is hard!

  9. Lena says:

    I am so with you – love the time I spend with the family at the dinner table

  10. Jenna Wood says:

    I am a big champion for family meals, even when kids aren’t involved. When you slow down and focus on your food, and the people around you, you tend to feel full quicker and enjoy the meal more!

  11. Family dinners were always important in our house growing up, and I can totally agree with quite a lot of the benefits you posted about.

  12. Bre Dale says:

    Amen! It’s SO important to make time for your family and talk, eat, etc.

  13. Patty says:

    My mother had us all eat together when we were younger. I know my sisters in law all encourage it with my nieces and nephews!

  14. I also think eating as a family is very important. In addition to the benefits to our kids, I think it just makes us more conscious of what we are eating in general.

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