The family that eats together stays healthy together

Oct 02, 2007

In this fast-paced world, it can be a challenge for families to find time to share a meal. But a nutritionist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences says sitting down to eat as a family is worth juggling your schedule.

"Research tells us that taking time for family meals has many rewards," said Mandel Smith, Penn State Cooperative Extension nutrition educator. "Nutrition and family-life professionals agree that families that eat together four or more times a week tend to eat healthier, more nutritious foods."

Developing family traditions and rituals is an important part of building a healthy family, and many families use mealtimes as a way to develop these traditions, according to Smith. "Family traditions do not have to involve a major holiday," she said. "Your family can develop traditions around everyday activities. Pizza or some other family favorite on the same day of the week can be a tradition.

"Giving thanks for the meal in your family's own special way can become a ritual," Smith said. "Remember, traditions and rituals can be simple and still have strong meaning to family members, while reminding them that they belong to a special, caring group."

Smith points out that family meal time also provides an opportunity for parents to model good habits. "Family mealtime can be an opportunity for parents to model appropriate table manners, healthy food choices and good communication and listening skills," she said. "Children get the opportunity to practice these skills, which will be important throughout their lives."

Making time for shared family meals can take a great deal of effort, Smith said. In addition to arranging a time and place when everyone can gather at the table, each family member must be dedicated to making the most of mealtime. She suggests families turn off the radio, television, phone and other distractions.

It may be too much of a challenge to try to eat every meal together at the beginning, so Smith recommends that families start slow and learn from the first meals together. "Begin with one daily meal together for a few weeks," she said. "Once you find a time that works, go from there. Share positive things that have happened during the day.

"Families that eat together experience better communication, develop stronger family traditions and have an opportunity to improve table manners and social skills," Smith said. "If you think your family is too busy to eat together, think again. There are too many benefits not to."

Source: Penn State

Explore further: Local enforcement of federal immigration laws affects immigrant Hispanics' healthcare

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Washington takes on Uber with its own taxi app

4 hours ago

Washington is developing a smartphone app to enable its taxis to compete head-on with Uber and other ride-sharing services, the US capital's taxi commission said Friday.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in living color

4 hours ago

Rosetta's OSIRIS team have produced a color image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it would be seen by the human eye. As anticipated, the comet turns out to be very grey indeed, with only slight, subtle ...

EU clean air, waste laws at risk

4 hours ago

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker faces a clash with lawmakers after leaked documents Friday revealed his plans to drop laws on clean air and waste recycling.

Recommended for you

Hot flashes linked to increased risk of hip fracture

3 hours ago

Women who experience moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats during menopause tend to have lower bone mineral density and higher rates of hip fracture than peers who do not have menopausal symptoms, according to a ...

Core hospital care team members may surprise you

3 hours ago

Doctors and nurses are traditionally thought to be the primary caretakers of patients in a typical hospital setting. But according to a study at the burn center intensive care unit at Loyola University Health System, three ...

Malnutrition a hidden epidemic among elders

6 hours ago

Health care systems and providers are not attuned to older adults' malnutrition risk, and ignoring malnutrition exacts a toll on hospitals, patients, and payers, according to the latest issue of the What's Hot newsletter ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.