Research shows that there are many health benefits for families that regularly share meal times. Sadly however, this once traditional habit of eating together around the table appears to be falling out of favour.
According to research, whether it’s every night or just a few times a week, eating together at the table is an excellent way to bring families together and promote healthier eating habits in a supportive and sociable setting.
Here are our 6 reasons to eat together at the table:
1. Controls portions and waistlines
Turning off distractions like the TV, phones and tablets while eating at the table could help you to focus on what, how much and how quickly you eat. Mindful eating is a great way to tune in to your body’s natural fullness cues preventing you from over-eating and reducing the temptation to over-eat, which could help to control your waistline.
2. Control what’s on offer
Ditch the ‘TV dinner’ – ready meals and takeaways are often high in fat, salt and sugar which can have a negative effect on heart health. A more structured mealtime routine around the table could give you the incentive to make that extra effort to prepare delicious healthy meals from scratch.
3. Lead by example
Set a good example to children by sharing the same healthy meal together at the table, including a variety of different vegetables. Remember, it can take up to ten tries for children to accept new foods, so keep exploring new and innovative ways to increase the veggie content of family meals.
4. Develop skills for life
Make mealtimes a family affair and give everyone a role from the food shopping and preparation, to stirring and laying the table, setting them up with positive skills for life. Working together will instil a sense of pride and make cooking and eating as a family enjoyable rather than a chore.
5. Nurture happy minds
Turn off distractions and let the conversations flow around the table as you enjoy meal times together. Sharing your day, worries and aspirations with those around you creates a supportive and nurturing environment boosting social skills, intellect, self-esteem and ability to manage stress.
6. Adopt healthier behaviours
Sharing mealtimes as a household will help to build a healthy relationship with food and could make teens less likely to fall into risky habits. Use the household’s change towards healthier lifestyles to exploit other opportunities to embed change such as putting out jugs of water on the table, experimenting with new flavours, textures and ways of cooking or simply enjoying the ambience of the shared experience.