Photosource, NY Times
Every household has a few absolutes, and one of ours is to eat dinner as a family. Eating dinner as a family means to us that we all sit at our kitchen table and eat together, no distractions. Most weeks we are able to achieve this at least 6 of the 7 days. My husband and I have been doing this for our 8+ years of marriage and we are now instilling this into our minds of our children. Our family table is a place we come together to pray, eat good food, and enjoy each other’s company. It is the highlight of my day.
Granted over these eight years our family table has changed. Yes we did buy a new table a few years ago because our old one did not fit into our new house, but the people around the table have also changed. Where two people use to gather, now we fill up all four chairs at our table (one in a booster chair). First there was a husband and a wife, and then we added a son which often had to be held by his mother while she struggled to eat with one hand. Next came the addition of a high chair and then the booster seat. Everything changed again when we added another baby boy to the mix. The highchair made another appearance and now a disappearance.
The conversation at the table has also changed. In the beginning we talked about our days at work, exciting things we were planning for the upcoming weekend, what bills needed to be paid, and the next vacation we would like to take with each other. Now we discuss the all important, what happened at preschool today. I laughed so hard when we were told how Marty was grabbing onto my son’s shirt (with a demonstration) and his teacher had to tell Marty, to “please keep your hands to yourself”!
There are benefits to family dinners also. Here are 8 benefits according to an article on Fox News!
1. Kids might learn to love their veggies.
A 2000 survey found that the 9- to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently ate more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.
2. It’s the perfect setting for new foods.
Most likely, a 6-year-old is not one day going to decide she’d really like to try Brussels sprouts. Parents have to introduce new foods to children, who initially need a little guidance in making healthy choices.
3. You control the portions.
Americans spend more than 40 percent of their food budget on meals outside of the home. Eating out can be convenient but it’s also caloric—portion sizes in restaurants just keep growing! The average restaurant meal has as much as 60 percent more calories than a homemade meal
4. Healthy meals mean happy kids.
Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them.
5. Family dinners help kids “just say no.”
Eating family dinners at least five times a week drastically lowers a teen’s chance of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Teens who have fewer than three family dinners a week are 3.5 times more likely to have abused prescription drugs and to have used illegal drugs other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times more likely to have smoked cigarettes, and 1.5 times more likely to have tried alcohol.
6. Better food, better report card.
Family meals give children an opportunity to have conversations with adults, as well as to pick up on how adults are using words with each other, which may explain why family dinnertime is also thought to build a child’s vocabulary.
7. Supper can be a stress reliever.
Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed.
8. Put a little cash in your pocket.
In 2007, the average household spent $3,465 on meals at home, and $2,668 on meals away from home, according to the national Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you take into consideration that the $2,668 spent on meals away from home only accounts for about 30 percent of meals (according to historical data), that’s about $8 per meal outside of the home, and only about $4.50 per each meal made in your own kitchen.