This month we’re celebrating family meals with our 30 Days of Dinner Challenge, where we encourage you to commit to 30 consecutive days of having dinner as a family. We 100% get that this is no small feat! With Fall sports in full force and the start of the school year still not far behind us, there’s a lot of schedule juggling and general chaos. Regardless, we stand behind our recommendation to have as many family meals as possible, and here are just some of the reasons why it’s so important.
The benefits that we’re most excited about are physical and emotional, but let’s not forget that the simple act of having dinner as a family can positively impact the brain! For younger children, it helps improve their vocabulary, and for school-aged kids, more family meals mean they’re more likely to do well academically. Plus, for us parents, family meals help us to remember all of what’s going on! When we’re talking around the dinner table, we can get the scoop on all of the upcoming activities that we’ll need to be aware of and/or involved in.
Family meals make us all healthier, period. When we do proper meal planning, we can intentionally pick healthy foods for our family dinners, and even on a comfort food day, it’s definitely healthier than a fast food dinner. Additionally, overeating is lessened just from sitting down and eating a meal together, rather than eating while multitasking. With healthier foods and less overeating, the risk of obesity is reduced, which is something that’s a serious problem for around 13.7 million children and adolescents in the United States!
This is the part where we could go on and on and on and on and–okay, you get the point. Some of the emotional benefits of family meals include: children feel a stronger sense of stability, their self-esteem is improved, and they learn valuable social skills and manners. Moreover, having family meals together further increases your camaraderie and your family bond. When you make family dinner a day-to-day tradition rather than one reserved for special occasions, you’re committing to creating memories that will be cherished for the rest of your lives.
We could continue to wax poetic about how meaningful and important family dinners are, but the truth is that you and your family have to feel the value yourself, by experiencing it and maintaining the tradition. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to see in the moment what will later mean the world to you. Maybe when your youngest is on her way to college, and you’re all reminded of the time when she accidentally dropped spaghetti onto her new shirt, or maybe when you’re oldest son is moving into his first apartment and he asks for the recipe for his favorite chili – maybe those are the moments when it’ll really click. In the meantime, we hope our passion for family meals has rubbed off on you and your family, and we hope you’ll continue to share your stories and photos with us as you create memories around the dinner table!
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov, June 2019 The Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, October 2013 Pediatrics, The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011