As a writer who is a grandmother, a mother and a psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of Eating Disorders, I have noticed a trend in the past 30 years that disturbs me. It is the death of the “family dinner”. More often than not, as I interview prospective patients for higher level of care programs at EDTC, I hear there are few to no meals that families eat together in a week. I can’t help but believe this is part of the socio-cultural climate that breeds eating disorders.
We’ve become so busy with work and planned events that what used to be sacred now seems impractical and worthless. Yet, research has been telling us that children who sit down to dinner with family at least four times a week have fewer eating disorders, fewer drug or alcohol addictions and an increased chance of graduating high school.
There are more benefits too!
- Family dinner teaches valuable interpersonal skills. It is a chance to connect with each other.
- Family dinner expands children’s vocabulary and reading abilities and their socialization skills.
- The more time children spend with family, the more likely they are to comply with parental expectations and share family values (aka: less “acting out” behaviors).
- Regular family dinners help protect the mental and social health of children.
- Family dinners often encourage more healthful, adventurous food choices.
So, why not give it a try? Put the cellphones away, turn off the screens and meet at the table for some healthful nourishment of the mind, body and spirit.