by Sofia Burckhardt, Casa Grande Alliance
Over summer vacation, our children have a chance to relax, destress and recharge for the next school year. Take this opportunity to establish or reestablish family mealtime. According to Patrick A. Coleman, in an article published on fatherly.com, there are some striking benefits to the increasingly lost art of group gustation.
For the littlest family members, sharing a dinner at the table with parents does several awesome things. First, it helps promote language skills as you talk about the day. It also helps them develop patience and dexterity through the use of utensils. And it helps them develop such social skills as manners and taking turns.
Improved mental health
One study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that kids who regularly enjoyed family meals were less likely to experience symptoms of depression and less likely to get into drug use.
Research suggests that when a family eats together they feel a strong bond with one another. Everyone leads disconnected lives at work and school, and this time allows them to reconnect.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has done a series of studies on the importance of family meals. One showed that kids who eat with their family fewer than three times a week were twice as likely to report receiving Cs or worse in school. Kids who ate with family five to seven times per week did much better, reporting mostly As and Bs.
Families that eat together make better food choices. One study from Stanford University reported that kids who eat family dinners are less likely to eat fried food and saturated fats, and seek out stuff like fruits and veggies.
Additionally, research from the American Society for Nutrition found that young children who ate at home with their families had a lower body-mass index than kids who did not.
A sample estimate finds that a family of four could save nearly $40 a week, per person, simply by shifting meals into the house.
The best part about getting together for dinner is that it becomes ingrained in a family’s tradition if you start the habit early.