When was the last time your entire family sat down to a meal? If you’re like most of us, the very act of trying can be daunting.
First off, one of our favorite authors, Ellen Gustafson, prioritizes family dinners in her book “We The Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World.” Here at Wellness Warrior, we admire the clarity of her 30 “Action Steps” toward “food shifts” so much that we’re spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter.
Author Gustafson explains…
Whatever family means to you...make a point to gather people to the table to share meals—at a backyard barbecue or in your kitchen. Nearly all cultures around the world value the tradition of communal food preparation and gathering people together to eat. We can honor that with everything from heirloom recipes to rituals of prayer or giving thanks before meals. Whatever that looks like at your table, try to reestablish those habits.”
And The Child Study Center reports some alarming figures about the demise of dinner...
In the past 20 years structured sports time has doubled, and family dinners have declined 33%. As parents are working harder and longer and kids' schedules are more and more crowded, there is a decline in ordinary family togetherness such as talking during mealtime or going to family celebrations.”
But you should...keep...trying! Here’s why.
A new study from The Journal of Pediatrics looked at the correlation between adolescents eating family meals and their obesity rate ten years later as young adults. The study, which focused on middle school and high-school-aged kids from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, concluded that,
Family meals during adolescence were protective against the development of overweight and obesity in young adulthood. Professionals who work with adolescents and parents may want to strategize with them how to successfully carry out at least 1 to 2 family meals per week in order to protect adolescents from overweight or obesity in young adulthood.”
So what’s the big deal? Why would the simple act of sitting down for a family meal make a difference in a child’s weight ten years later? Well apparently good habits die-hard. Families that gather for family mealtime tend to eat more nutritional foods according to an article in Time, which cited a different study:
The data suggested that family mealtime has a wealth of health benefits, especially for children. Kids who ate more meals together with their families tended to eat more fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods, and vitamins, and ate less junk food.”
The results speak for themselves. Making family mealtimes a priority whenever possible will pay off in the long run.
Family Meals Matter-- Staying Connected via The Child Study Center
The Protective Role of Family Meals for Youth Obesity via The Journal Of Pediatrics
Family meals may mean a healthier weight...via NY Times