Busy schedules make family mealtimes challenging, but we believe that the time spent eating together as a family has never been more important! September is National Family Meals Month™ and Pure Flavor® is proud to support this campaign by encouraging families to spend more time together around the table! Discover the many benefits there are to sharing meals and how making the time to eat together, can play a key role in fueling a healthy family.
It’s time to make family meals a priority again! Research shows that home-cooked meals nourish the spirit, brain, & the overall health of all family members. This means that there are many benefits for not only your physical health, but for your mind as well.
There really is no better place to come together as a family than with a good meal. Whether you are looking to strengthen your family’s connection or increase your physical and mental well-being, there are many different benefits of eating together as a family. For families with kids, parents can influence & improve food choices, model good nutrition and build family relationships at mealtime. All of these can lead to better weight management, improved physical health and improved mental health. Families of any size or configuration can also benefit from the bonding time shared by preparing or eating a meal with those you are closest to. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner, even one more meal a week at home together can make a huge difference in your family’s well-being.
MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS-
When you take the time to come together more often as a family, every member’s well-being benefits. It is proven that family meals can increase resilience, lower the risk of depression and boost self-esteem! By engaging in meaningful conversations and having a stronger family bond you can create memories that will last a lifetime. There truly is nothing better than laughing and smiling together, which happens when you spend meaningful time together. It is better for your mental health and creates lasting memories of eating together. Looking for where to start? Get started with these conversation starters. Did you know there was a connection between the foods you eat together and your mental health? Eating healthy foods feeds the cells and bacteria in the digestive system, these cells and bacteria produce hormones and chemicals that are vital for the body and mind to function.1 Eating together can also protect against the effects of stress inflammation, which has been associated with depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. When you come together as a family and positively influence eating behavior, you can affect much more than just your family’s physical health.
PHYSICAL BENEFITS & STRONGER FAMILY BOND-
There are many physical benefits that come from spending time together for family meals. It can improve physical health because parents are able to influence healthy nutrition decisions with their children. People eat healthier when they eat together! Thousands of studies have proven that more family meals are associated with better nutrition.1 Regular mealtimes can also improve heart health, and gut health due to reduced stress levels. Better nutrition from eating together can also result in better weight management in families. Studies showed family meals improve fruit and vegetable consumption.1 There are many different greenhouse grown vegetables you can include in your family meals to increase your health benefits even more! They all contain important vitamins and nutrients you need to live a healthy lifestyle. Cucumbers contain Iron which is important to maintaining a healthy count of red blood cells, Potassium which helps your heart and muscles work properly and Vitamin k which builds strong bones so you can stay active! When you stick to a routine and eat your meals at regular times, it can play a role in your circadian rhythm as well. Make shared meals a priority for every family member’s physical health!
BENEFITS FOR KIDS & SCHOOL-
We know that healthy breakfast and lunches are important to success in school, but did you know eating together as a family has just as many benefits? This year, make family meals together a part of your school routine and stick to it year-round! Along with the other mental and physical benefits, there are proven facts that link success in school to kids who eat more meals with their families. Kids from elementary to high-school age who eat meals with their families four times a week earn better test scores and succeed in school. Twenty percent of kids who have 5+ family dinners a week have A’s in school. While 12% of kids who have family dinners 2+ times a week have A’s in school.1 Eating together feeds the emotional well-being of children and teens so they are more motivated at school, and get along better with others.1 When you make family meals a priority you are giving them the tools to succeed in their education!
MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS-
Here are some easy to tips to help you maximize all of the benefits that come with family meals:
- PENCIL IT IN: Make time in your schedule to sit down and enjoy a meal with loved ones. Whatever day or time works for your family, make it work. Set aside a specific day that is non-negotiable for eating together and plan around that.
- INCLUDE YOUR KIDS: Involve kids in meal planning, preparation, and cooking. The family that cooks together, often eats together.
- INSPIRE CULINARY INTEREST: Ensure that all family members are involved in creating meal plans for the week. This will help them to get them excited about eating together and the meals that lie ahead!
- PUT AWAY THE DISTRACTIONS – Be fully present in the moment and focus on the people around you
- HAVE MEANINGFUL AND FUN CONVERSATIONS- Ask a fun question about their day or try a humorous conversation starter. Looking for inspiration? Try these conversation starters
- MAKE IT EASY- Looking for easy, meal inspiration you can enjoy together without all of the fuss? Click here for inspiration
EAT WELL TOGETHER, BE WELL TOGETHER-
The truth is, most people want to enjoy more family meals, but with navigating life, it’s often the first thing to get pushed aside. Create healthy traditions everyone can look forward to and make the time! By committing to eating even one more healthy family meal a week you can reap all the benefits that come from it. Explore meal ideas here to help you Live Deliciously® and ultimately improve your physical and mental health as a family. Research shows that magic happens during family mealtime when children and parents gather around the table and engage each other in conversation. Remember family meals don’t all have to look the same, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or brunch, if you’re enjoying food with the people you love, it can benefit your health! Join us for National Family Meals Month™ and Raise Your Mitt to Commit™ so we can all eat well together and be well together!
Sources: 1. FMI NFMM Toolkit (2022)