What are the benefits of family meal time?

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Lisa Oz
Health Education
Even with hectic schedules, family meal time is one of the most important ways we communicate our values to our children, including an appreciation of the sacred nature of food and the understanding that the mundane act of sharing a meal is much more important than it seems. It is here that you can share the events of the day and your insights into those events. Even if we don’t all eat at the same time, we always make an effort to sit together, the early birds having a cup of herbal tea while the last stragglers finish their dinner.
Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics
With schedules becoming busier and busier, meal times gives families a chance to sit down, unwind and share a plate of great tasting food. Kids see family meals as opportunities to be surrounded by relatives and share stories of their day. For parents, these meals are where they can act as role models and teach healthy nutrition habits.

Overall family meals can be a positive experience that help structure a strong and loving home environment; helps children do better in school; opens communication between parents, kids, and siblings; and offers opportunity to learn about healthy eating.
Sarah Mathot
Nutrition & Dietetics
Serving family-style meals at meal time provide children with an opportunity to practice their motor skills, such as balance, passing platters, holding bowls and scooping food. Kids are able to learn and practice their table manners and it creates an opportunity for kids to choose which foods to eat and the amount which works for their body.

Independence and trust are promoted in subtle ways, such as acknowledging your child’s capability with serving himself and allowing your child to choose foods and amounts that are right for him/her.
Dawn Marcus
Neurology
Research has consistently shown that eating with the family boosts your good health habits. Benefits of family meal time include:
  • Better consumption of nutritious foods.
  • Better intake of important healthy vitamins and minerals.
  • Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables.
  • Fewer between-meal snacks.
  • Decreased risk of obesity.
  • Improved mood.
  • Reduce risk for drug abuse.
  • And kids eating family meals actually perform better in school!

Continue Learning about Eating Habits and Nutrition

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.