The Benefits of Eating Together as a Family
Gathering your family members to sit together at the dinner table can often be an uphill struggle. Between moody teenagers, wild toddlers and busy parents, there never seems to be a good time to share a meal and a conversation. Even so, quality family time is inestimably precious and integral to a happy household. So, whenever you need a reminder of why eating together as a family is important, consider these benefits.
Sitting together and eating as a family has been proven to strengthen bonds, leading to healthier lifelong relationships. Human beings have used food as a bonding method for thousands of years, as we naturally feel closer to one another when sharing the same meal. There is an inherent relationship between food and culture - eating together, feasting and figuratively breaking bread can be seen throughout history worldwide as a symbol of conviviality and togetherness.
Understanding Your Children
The key to understanding your children is talking to them; however, getting them to open up can prove difficult. Some young people feel unable to express themselves verbally, whereas others find the vulnerability of heart-to-heart conversation challenging. Keeping conversations open and honest starts with day-to-day life. Learn more about your children by encouraging them to express their feelings and opinions at the dinner table by maintaining an open-minded mindset.
Promoting Good Manners
Many are of the opinion that good manners are hard to come by, but this doesn’t need to be the case. Good manners start at home, and by encouraging your children to be polite and reasonable, you set them in good stead for their lives ahead. The dinner table provides an excellent opportunity for your children to mind their P’s and Q’s, and practise good table manners.
Promoting Healthy Eating Habits
We all want our children to grow up with healthy relationships with their bodies and food, and children often learn through imitation. If you, as parents, demonstrate healthy eating habits, your children are likely to follow suit. Use dinnertime as an excuse to discuss healthy choices and the importance of nutrition, so your children can grow into happy, healthy human beings.
Ease The Stress Of Daily Life
No matter what you’re contending with, be it work, school or university, daily life grinds us all down from time to time. Sitting down for dinner as a family, on comfortable fabric dining chairs, with soft lighting and a lovingly prepared meal is guaranteed to melt away all of the day's troubles thus far. It is an opportunity to practise mindfulness by being utterly present with your loved ones.
Improve Your Children’s Self Esteem
Using family dinner time as a form of group talking therapy can impact everybody's mental well-being. Open conversation allows your children to feel heard and valued as individuals, improving their self-esteem. Encourage them to tell you about their day and genuinely listen, taking their feelings into consideration. In turn, you can offer your own advice and opinions, promoting empathy and confidence.
Improve Conversation Skills
Many people, even adults, struggle to maintain a conversation - this is often due to a mix of anxiety surrounding discussion and lack of practice. Regular family mealtimes with plenty of chatter can improve their conversation skills, which could boost their academic performance. In fact, research shows that children who feel connected and engaged with their families are more likely to perform better in school, with fewer behavioural issues.
Promote Healthy Development
Eating regular, healthy meals aids multiple areas of development in children. Childhood is a period of rapid growth, with nutrition as a vital factor for brain development and preventing a number of chronic diseases. Preparing healthy dishes for your family to enjoy will encourage your children to understand the importance of a balanced diet and its part in making their bodies strong and resilient.
One fantastic side effect of enjoying home-cooked meals as a family is that it negates the temptation to order a takeaway. Of course, the odd one here and there is fine, but everything in moderation. In 2021, the average spend on takeaway food per UK individual was a whopping £641. By cutting down on your fast food consumption, in favour of home-cooked alternatives (and even fake-aways), you could save a tidy sum.