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Studies Show There Are Benefits To Families Having Meals Together

Currently, only about 30 percent of families currently get together for family dinners each week.

Research has found that they're missing out on a lot of benefits, such as building healthier food habits, communication skills, and so much more.

So while catching a Jeopardy! together as a family is fun, it's not doing you — or your kids — any favors.

1. It improves communication.

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There's not much talking going on when you're trying to hear a show on TV.

Take dinner to the table and reap benefits instead. A 2018 Canadian study found that social interaction and discussions on various topics can improve kids' communication skills.

2. It improves eating habits.


I don't know about you, but when I eat alone, I scarf down my food in record time and don't think much about healthy food choices.

Thankfully, there's still hope for kids. A study in JAMA Network Open found that eating meals with family members resulted in kids and teens making healthier choices, such as consuming more fruits and veggies.

3. It can prevent mental health issues.

Eating as a family promotes togetherness, and this can have tremendous effects on a growing mind.

A 2015 review by Canadian researchers found that young folks who eat family meals frequently experienced fewer issues with things like eating disorders and alcohol and substance use.

4. It can improve children's self-esteem.


Kids need a space where they can feel safe and encouraged to be themselves.

The dinner table is a great place to start, as experts at Stanford Children's Health found that kids feel cared for there. It's also a great place to raise confidence.

Dinnertime conversation, for example, allows children to talk about their day.

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Parents can also boost their kids' self-esteem by allowing them to choose where they want to sit and tasking them to help with preparing the meal, setting up the table, or helping with clean-up afterward.

5. It can prevent weight struggles later in life.

Remember those healthy eating habits we talked about? Well, research has found that kids benefit long-term from obtaining these.

One study found that kids who have regular family meals had reduced odds of weight issues 10 years later.

6. It can be used in combination with family therapy.

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More than likely, a family therapist will recommend families take what they've learned in therapy to the dinner table.

This is a great chance to practice what they've been taught, as everyone is present and listening.

A 2016 study even backs this up.

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It was found that some therapists ask families to reenact a family dinner, so they can better understand a family's functioning in terms of gender roles, division of labor, and conflict management.

At home, families can practice the new roles and communications practices they've learned.

7. It can make children/teens more resilient to cyberbullying.

Research has found that 70 percent of teenagers have been cyberbullied.

It's a sad fact that doesn't end there, as it's been found that there is a correlation between cyberbullying and young people experiencing anxiety, depression, and substance abuse as a result.

This is where family dinners come in.

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That same research study found that teens who took part in around four or more family dinners a week reported fewer mental struggles.

Since communication is more open, teens also confided in their parents more, resulting in parental guidance.

8. It can make kids better academically.

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Young minds are curious minds!

Family therapist, Anne Fishel, told Harvard EdCast that children are likely to pick up new words and vocabulary in a conversation with their parents during dinner. This was confirmed in a study done at the Harvard Ed school.

Does your family eat together for meals? Let us know!