The results are in and they’re conclusive. Very conclusive. If you don’t think dining together as a family is important, think again. In a research study conducted by Cornell University, findings showed that if your children dine with you, they will be 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods, and 12% less likely to be overweight. If that isn’t enough, believe you me, there’s plenty more.
Using large samples of teens, the survey titled National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, the researches were looking to determine if family meals had an impact on a child’s mental health, substance abuse, and delinquency. And boy oh boy the findings are enlightening.
The major takeaway is that youth who engage in frequent family meals have less depressive symptoms. Other studies have concluded that children who participate in family mealtime have higher academic achievements, improved psychological well-being, and more positive family interactions. But how do you define family mealtime? That’s where researchers are running up against some obstacles. For instance, do both parents need to be present? What if the television set is on? What if the neighbor’s son is present?
The researchers advice is this:
- Set a goal to have at least three family meals together per week in order to yield the best results
- Try to make the meals consistent from one week to the next; in other words plan for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evening for example
- Quality, not just quantity, is important, too; eliminate distractions like televisions and cell phones to improve communication
So there you have it. It’s high-time we set some time aside for family meal time. It doesn’t seem that difficult considering your children’s well-being is in the balance.