Adults Featured Healthy News Kids Teens — 23 September 2013

The Power of the Family Dinner Hour! 

By: Jodie Shield, RD

If your family dinner is constantly being bumped by other activities like soccer practice or volunteer meetings, you may want to reconsider your priorities.  Research has shown that when families eat together at least five times a week, both parents and kids benefit.  The parents have more quality time with their children, and the kids do better intellectually, emotionally, and physically.  Here are four reasons why you and your family should be eating dinner together regularly and it doesn’t have to be for one hour. September 23rd is Family Day  and the perfect opportunity to start eating dinner with your kids. If you’re not sure what to make, try my  Grilled Chicken Pineapple or Cajun Meat Loaf – they’re super easy, healthy and de-lish!

Top 4 Reasons for Eating Family Dinners

Keep the lines of communication open.  Eating dinner together provides a perfect opportunity for everyone to share information about their day or plans for the week.  Try to keep the conversation positive and reinforcing so that family members will look forward to dining together.

Boost your child’s self-confidence.  Several studies have found that children who eat dinner with their family regularly feel more secure and stable than those whose families have no dinner routine.  Children thrive on routines and find it reassuring to know that they will have their parents’ attention each day.

Enhance vocabulary skills.  A Harvard University study found that when preschoolers listen to and take part in dinnertime conversations, they tend to have better verbal skills and may turn out to be better readers and writers.  That’s probably because when kids eat with adults, they hear more complex words, can ask what these words mean, and can practice using them.

Help children and teens maintain a healthy weight.  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, children who skip regular meals tend to snack all day long and eat convenience foods, which are usually high in calories, sugar and fat.  This eating pattern coupled with inactivity, can lead to weight gain.

Bottomline:  To reap the benefits of family meals, strive for eating five dinners together each week.  How many nights a week does your family eat together?

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(3) Readers Comments

  1. I had no idea that eating dinner as a family can boost your child’s self-confidence. As a father, I try my best to keep my son happy and out of trouble. I’m glad that family dinner can benefit our son so much. Thanks.

  2. I thought it was really interesting how the article mentions that eating out together as a family can actually boost your child’s self-confidence. It states that children need routines and having regular family dinners can be a helpful part of that. I’m not a very good cook, so would the same benefits be attained if my family ate together at a restaurant?

    • Jodie

      Hi John,

      Great question. Whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner, eating together with your family is key. No need to be a good cook, it’s sharing the meal that counts. Eating at a restaurant would definitely count, but that can get expensive. I hope you try some of my quick and easy family meals – less expensive and more nutritious.

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