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What if I told you that there was a magic bullet—something that would improve the quality of your daily life, your children's chances of success in the world, [and] your family's health.
Something that is inexpensive, simple to produce, and within the reach of pretty much everyone? According to research, eating together as a family on a regular basis has some surprising effects.
When sharing a meal together family bonds become stronger, children are better adjusted, family members eat more nutritional meals, they are less likely to be overweight, and they are less likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs.
Given the positive benefits of eating together, why are more families not doing it? Trends Although there has been a growing concern that families are no longer eating together, research over the last decade suggests that this is not the case.
These numbers seem to suggest that most children and youth in the U. What about the children and youth in the state of Florida?
Do they follow the national trend? This compared to As shown in Table 1, the percentages differ based on the age of the child, with younger children eating family meals more frequently.
The trends are hopeful, but there are still a large number of children and youth who do not share meals with their families. Although trying to get the family together for a family meal is very challenging, the benefits appear to outweigh the costs. Family Togetherness One benefit of eating meals together is the effect on strengthening family bonds.
Family meals provide a daily time for the whole family to be together. For younger children, having routine family meals can provide a sense of security and a feeling of belonging in the family Satter, Older children and teenagers, too, prefer eating together as a family.
Family meals are also a representation of the ethnic, cultural, or religious heritage of the family Weinstein, What the family eats, how they eat, and when they eat reflects this cultural identity.
It also provides parents a learning opportunity where they can teach social skills, table manners, and basic cooking skills. Well-Being Regular family meals are related to better adjustment in children and youth Eisenberg et al.
Research shows that youth who have regular family meals report earning better grades in school, are more motivated at school, and get along better with others.
On the other hand, those who do not eat regular family meals together are more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use other drugs CASA, Children and youth who do not eat family meals together are also more likely to report feeling depressed or having trouble at school.
Even among older teenagers, who often have conflicting schedules and do not eat regularly with their family, the risk is higher when they do not regularly participate in family meals CASA, Some researchers found that eating meals together reduces the risk for being overweight, especially in families with an authoritative parenting style Forthun, a; FY Things to Consider There are two caveats to the benefits of family dinners on the health and well-being of family members.
The first is eating in front of the television. Although a recent study found that families who eat in front of the TV are still more likely to eat healthy foods than those who do not eat together, they are less likely to eat healthy meals than those who eat together at the dinner table Feldman, et al.
The second caveat is for families who eat together at the dinner table but who frequently purchase prepared foods e. Although the family may receive the benefits of increased family togetherness and well-being, they may not receive the nutritional benefits of a home-cooked meal.
Conclusion Eating together as a family is more than just a meal, it is an opportunity for families to come together regularly in support of family unity.Overall, families that eat 5 or more meals together have children who are ∼25% less likely to encounter nutritional health issues than children who eat ≤1 meal with their families.
Shared family meals seem to operate as a protective factor for overweight, unhealthy eating, and disordered eating.
Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day.
Sharing family meals provides a multitude of benefits to families as a whole. Few family experiences offer such a wide range of benefits through such a simple activity. A few of the many benefits that research has documented that occur for families through sharing family meals are: Family meals provide a sense of family unity and identity.
The Do’s and Dont’s of Sharing Food with your Dog The Do’s and Dont’s of Sharing Food with your Dog Sharing food from the table can be great for your dog's health.
While sharing food directly from your plate probably isn’t the best idea, there are lots of table scraps that are safe and healthy to share with your canine companion. Just because it comes from the table or counter doesn’t mean that it’s bad for your dog.
The other reason is that eating alone can be alienating. The dinner table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day.