5 Reasons Why Family Meals Matter

by Sarah on February 16, 2011

Some of my best memories as a child are of sitting around the table together as a family, sharing meals and conversations, discussing plans and daily happenings. Indeed, some of the best memories I’ve created with my husband were made over a thoughtfully prepared meal.¬†Once our son was 6 months old, he too joined us at the family table, providing us with the opportunity to make our own family memories together.

The power of sharing a meal together as a family cannot by underestimated.

Here are a 5 reasons why family meals really are that important.

1. Role Modelling

Family Meals provide the perfect opportunity to model healthy eating behaviours. Young children learn through imitating others, so by showing your children that you eat and enjoy a variety of foods – including fruits and vegetables – you are showing your children how to eat well.

2. Reconnect

The Family Meal is a daily opportunity to get together as a family and share; both a meal and a conversation. With family schedules becoming more hectic by the day, the family meal is a lovely way for the family to get together at the end of a long day and reconnect.

3. Improve Weight Control

Children who regularly eat family meals tend to eat better, eating more fruits and vegetables, than those children that ate fewer family meals. These children also tended to have fewer problems with weight control, with a reduced incidence of overweight and obesity into their adult years.

4. An Opportunity to Teach

Family mealtimes teach children about appropriate meal time behaviour. Sharing a meal together as a family provides an opportunity to teach children proper manners and meal time etiquette. Teaching these behaviours early sets the foundations for more pleasant meal times, making eating out easier and teaching children how to enjoy a meal together as a family.

5. The Power of Conversation

Family meals inevitably involve an element of conversation; a time when individual family members can share the happenings from their day. Even in young children, these mealtime conversations go a long way in helping develop early literacy skills.

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

TENNIS: OnCourtAdvantage.com February 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm

GREAT list post! Love the lay-out, easy to read, great contrast of colour for the 5 listed points and effective use of bolding the KEY words and phrases.
Sports Science research often suggests that learning is up to 80% visual and that behaviour modelling is extremely critical in learning, especially with the younger and youngest of age groups.
Behaviour shaping is a very powerful tool also, so making sure you project and reinforce the behaviours you want to shape is excellent for the uptake of learning. With your list you cover ALL those critical factors and highlight how repeated exposure to these very effective learning tools IS just “that important”.
There is NO doubt that YOU achieve your tagline, “Raising children to have a healthy appetite for real food”.

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Sarah February 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Some really great points. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really do believe in the power of role modelling to teach our children healthy behaviours.

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Barb February 17, 2011 at 12:16 am

I love your post! Easy to read ( I should work harder on that myself) Your site is easy to navigate and clear in its intention.
Great
Barbara
Love your tag line!

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Sarah February 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Thanks Barbara! The tagline took me a while to decide on.

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louisa February 17, 2011 at 2:48 am

This is such a helpful post and timely reminder, thank you!

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Sarah February 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm

You are welcome :)

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Toushka Lee February 17, 2011 at 7:33 am

good list – great points. Having dinner together as a family is a non negotiable daily event in our household and I want it to remain that way as my kids get older. I agree; it really is that important.
I’m not a fan of bolding of the key points though. Probably because there are so many that it just looks like random bold text. But I can see the previous commenter liked it. bah. you can’t please everyone – keep doing what works for you. I’m off to read some baby led weaning posts now.

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kasia February 17, 2011 at 7:55 am

great list.. and oh so true!!

love your blog.. found you through aussie mummy bloggers..
xx

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Naomi Ellis February 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Love this list. The content is excellent and the layout is so clear and easy to read. I am going to share this on my facebook page. Naomi x

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Sarah February 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Thank you for sharing the link. Glad you liked the post :)

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Megan @ Writing Out Loud February 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Love this list – this is a topic very close to my heart and I completely agree.

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nellbe February 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Love this post… I try and sit our family down every night for dinner together. It means eating at 5.30pm but I think it is so worth it.

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Sarah February 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm

We tend to eat early too as my toddler son can’t wait much later than 5.30/6pm to eat without having a meltdown!

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Melissa February 18, 2011 at 6:03 am

We’ve always eaten together as a family. Along with all the other reasons listed above, I believe dinnertime conversation is important to not only help build the social skills of your kids, but to really keep in touch with your kids as they grow up and keep the relationship open. To let them know that they can always talk to you. Our almost 4yo always asks ‘how was your day today mummy and daddy’ then goes on to tell us everything he’s done that day. It’s sweet, it’s fun and it’s family.

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Sarah February 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I couldn’t agree more Melissa – family meals are a great way to stay connected with our kids. Your 4yo sounds adorable! :)

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Marthese February 18, 2011 at 8:53 am

Love your layout…your message is loud and clear and very true…As much as I agree with you unfortunately this does not happen on a regular basis as their are families who their job involves shift work or other commitments and sometimes it is such a struggle to get everyone together…but yes I cannot agree more…well done great post. I do recommend that if this does not happen at meal times families try and find some space to do something or come together to share quality time.

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Sarah February 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm

So true Marthese – one of the casualties of modern day life is the family meal. However the family meal does not only have to be restricted to the evening meal. If eating together at the end of the day is not possible then breakfasts or lunches could be eaten together. If that is still not possible, then eating meals together on weekends are another possibility. Eating some meals together are better than none. Completely agree with you about making the space to spend quality time together as a family :)

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Kellie February 19, 2011 at 5:44 am

Our three-year-old daughter will eat absolutely anything – even olives! I think sitting at the table each night has a big part to do with that. Love this post!

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Sarah February 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Thanks Kellie – my son LOVES olives too!

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Cheryl Ellemberg February 19, 2011 at 8:07 am

There are some traditions, such as eating meals together, that work! This has been a win, win, win time and time again. Being healthy is a way of life….and should not be measured in one act. We can and should focus on how we make our decisions to be healthy. One step at a time, we move towards the best we can possibly be! Thanks for sharing.

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Jo Green March 1, 2011 at 12:03 am

I have heard very often how important is it to make sure families sit down and have dinner together as often as possible. Thanks for for providing some additional info on why this is so beneficial.

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dinimaus March 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I found your blog and I love it. I love your tag-line. Very nice

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