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The Benefits of Eating Together

posted Sep 2, 2016, 6:13 AM by   [ updated Sep 2, 2016, 6:15 AM ]
September is National Family Meals month and we’re starting it off by telling you all about the benefits of eating together. Did you know that family meals have benefits that go beyond catching up with one another?

According to Dr. Anne K. Fishel, clinical psychologist and co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, studies show that children and teens that eat with family have lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, and a higher-grade point average and self-esteem.

Studies also show that family meals or shared meals are also related to lower rates of overweight and obesity and higher fruit and vegetable intake for those who participate compared to those who do not. Among children and adolescents, studies have found the benefits of family meals “included higher consumption of fruits and vegetables; eating breakfast; higher intakes of micro-nutrients such as calcium, iron, and various vitamins; and lower levels of consumption of soda, higher-fat foods, unhealthy snacks and cakes, fried food, and fast food.”

The most benefits come from meals that are prepared at home. It was found that overweight and obesity were “considerably greater when adolescents reported at least 1 away-from-home dinner purchase in the past week.” But for parents who are short on time and still want some of the benefits of a family meal, adding a salad or side vegetables to your order is a great option.

Frequency and quality of family meal time is also important. Another study found that having family meals 3 or more days per week yield the most positive benefits for children. Additionally, “mealtimes have been noted as one of the most common times children communicate with parents,” so minimizing distractions, such as TV and cell phone is the best way to get the most of this time.

To make family meals possible for you, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends you keep it simple (the less ingredients, the better), choose ingredients that you are familiar with and can use in more than one meal, skip the take out as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask the kids for help!

For more information on the benefits of family nutrition visit:

· The State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity: Are We Making Progress? Available at:

· University of Minnesota – Epidemiology & Community Health Research: Project EAT. Available at: