Research into family meals and their benefits is becoming more in depth, with some interesting findings:
- Dining as a family can create an environment for parents to lead by example for their children. Children who eat with their families consume more fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy foods compared to those who eat fewer family meals. Parents will be thrilled to learn that young adults who were raised eating regular family meals consume more vegetables (there is hope yet for teenagers!)
- Adults also report that eating as a family is a positive portion of their day. Mealtime creates a feeling of togetherness and family cohesion. The concept of family meals does not exclude single-parent homes or couples without children. The routine associated with meals can provide a protective value for some of the risks associated with single-parent homes. For couples, the routine of sitting down together carves out time for each other and creates work schedule boundaries creating a balance between work and personal life.
- There is an association between family meal frequency and lower rates of obesity. However, while the meals are more nutritious (especially when prepared and eaten at home) they are not necessarily lower in calorie. Family meals consumed while distracted (watching television, taking phone calls, reading the mail) may actually increase food consumption.