For many of us, life moves very fast with our busy schedules, and always-on lifestyles. This can make planning family mealtimes a difficult exercise, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s also the feeling that family meals should mostly occur on special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, but sitting down together and having a family meal shouldn’t be limited to these events. This mealtime is an opportunity for families to share conversations and enjoy each other’s company.
There’s the argument that our fast food and convenience culture has had an impact on families having meals together. Furthermore, in today’s busy world, kids and parents need a shared time to be able to discuss and connect. These shared times don’t have to be a lengthy period of time either. A mealtime that lasts as little as 30 minutes each day may seem insufficient, but it’s indeed very significant. Let’s explore the benefits of families eating together in more detail.
With family meals, there is really a sense of togetherness with everyone dropping distractions, sharing the same menu, sharing deep conversations, discussing goals and future plans that affect the collective rather than any one individual. After all, what’s better than having interesting conversations with loved ones over an appetizing meal?
For families, when there are no regular mealtimes, there’s a chance that lack of cohesion may be present, because there’s not enough time spent by family members getting to know each other and there’s no knowledge of what changes are occurring in each individual’s life. Conversations in these settings present an opportunity to learn, bond and strengthen existing relationships.
There are also cost savings associated with having frequent family meals (not just dinner). It’s generally accepted that home cooked meals are much cheaper than eating out and it’s so much easier to realize the savings benefits when these home cooked meals are recurring. This is a great way to keep your finances in check but it doesn’t mean that families can’t have meals at fancy restaurants – it’s okay to splurge a little once in a while!
Another benefit of having regular family meals is its impact on the overall health of the family. Families that have regular meals together are inclined to be healthier in their food choices and eating habits. This is also an opportunity for parents to provide a healthy model of eating for their children. Several studies like this one from Canadian Family Physician (CFP), have shown that family meals are linked with positive psychological outcomes for children and adolescents. According to this study from the official journal of The College of Canadian Family Physicians (CFP), children and adolescents’ healthy development is influenced by a number of family factors. One factor cited is that healthy family environments, in particular, family meals might serve as a way to increase family cohesion. It also adds, “…family rituals and routines, like the family meal, might offer consistency and a venue for checking in with family members, and for learning and teaching healthy food behaviour and attitudes.”
It’s important to note that the benefits of having family meals aren’t restricted to the three we’ve listed in this post. While the ones listed are important, there are certainly more benefits that can be derived from having frequent meals as a family. So we’ve summarized some positive points to give you a greater sense of the importance of family meals and why you should think of them as an efficient use of time. In addition to this summary, here are some tips you could certainly use to help you cook and eat more memorable meals together with your family:
Go ahead and feel free to make use of these tips the way they are or customize each one to your liking. You’ll find that the frequency of your family meals will increase over time by giving any one of these a try!