Why Families Should Eat Together?

There is an activity that will improve your kids’ academic performance, increase their self-esteem, improve their health, and reduce their risk of depression and obesity. What’s the activity? Recent research has found many benefits to eating as a family, and I will be sharing three of them with you.

Eating as a family may be the simplest parenting hack yet. A 2018 study discovered that eating meals with family members is associated with a healthier diet overall, particularly among adolescents. Teens who ate with their families were more likely to consume fruits and vegetables and less likely to consume fast food and sugary beverages. And you do not have to be the perfect happy family for these advantages to apply.

According to a 2015 review by a group of Canadian researchers, eating disorders, alcohol and substance use, violent behaviour, depression, and suicidal thoughts can all be prevented in adolescents through frequent family dinners. Young female study participants were especially likely to benefit from family meals’ protective mental health benefits. In addition, according to a 2022 survey conducted by the American Health Association, 91% of parents reported that their families are significantly less stressed when they eat meals together on a regular basis. 

According to experts at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, a paediatric health care system affiliated with Stanford Medicine and Stanford University, the security provided by regular family mealtimes can help children feel more confident in themselves. By encouraging your children to talk about their day (and genuinely listening to their responses), you are communicating that you value and respect who they are. 

I hope this has inspired you to plan regular family meals for your family. There is naturally some inertia at the beginning. But once you’ve started, it gets easier. 

By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. 

Food for Thought: What do you like most about eating as a family?

1. Walton K, Horton NJ, Rifas-Shiman SL, et al. Exploring the Role of Family Functioning in the Association Between Frequency of Family Dinners and Dietary Intake Among Adolescents and Young Adults. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7):e185217. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5217
2. Harrison ME, Norris ML, Obeid N, Fu M, Weinstangel H, Sampson M. Systematic review of the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in youth. Can Fam Physician. 2015 Feb;61(2):e96-106. PMID: 25676655; PMCID: PMC4325878.
3. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/new-survey-91-of-parents-say-their-family-is-less-stressed-when-they-eat-together