The Family that Eats Together

Here's some Plum District Food for Thought on Why Eating Together Matters

Does your family dine together?  Did you as a kid? How important is it in your home to eat together? In today’s world, we are constantly connected to each other via technology, but how often do we really connect? For a busy family, with varying schedules, one thing is for certain – we all have to eat! So why not make mealtime a special time with your family. Food for thought:

  • Children who frequently eat meals with their families tend to do better in school as well. A 1994 Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest national poll of high school seniors showed higher scholastic scores among students who frequently shared meals with their families. And a survey of high-achieving teens showed that those who regularly eat meals with their families tend to be happier with their present life and their prospects for the future.
  • In a study of American teenagers funded by the Council of Economic Advisers to the President (2000), they found a strong association between regular family meals (five or more dinners per week with a parent) and academic success, psychological adjustment, and lower rates of alcohol use, drug use, early sexual behavior, and suicidal risk.
  • Another University of Minnesota study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that children who ate family meals consumed more fruits, vegetables and fewer snack foods than children who ate separately from their families.

Hear why Plum District’s own Karyn Agosto cherishes family meal time-

Food is 100% the glue that holds my family together. You’ve never met more women that talk about recipes than my mom, aunts, grandmother, and extended family.  Sunday lunch in the Grimaldi household was “the meal” growing up and is still just as important today. You just never missed it! We’d all head to church as a family in the morning – some happier than others to be up early on a Sunday. My mom would start her meal preparations before we left the house.   To this day, I still love walking through the front door after mass and the smell of the yummy, “cooked with love” food hitting me in the face.

My mom always had food on the table during the week too, and if you were anywhere within a 25-mile radius of our dinner table, you were expected to be home to eat with the family. My friends all knew the rules too. I didn’t even have to explain it to them that I must be home by 5:00, and to be honest, I think some were even a little jealous.  Sports practice, a class assignment, or being kidnapped were about the only reasons we could get out of the family dinner. My mom worked a full day, would run here and there with us after school, and yet dinner was always ready – except for Friday night pizza night. My mom is no Julia Child, but there is a reason for the curves I have today (thanks Mom :)).

There were and still are lots of laughs and funny stories that take place during mealtime. Many meals were spent trying not to laugh at our picky baby sister as she choked down something she didn’t like or hid food under her napkin. Mom’s rules – we must eat at least one of the vegetable options on the table and no, salad did not count. We always asked to “be excused.” I will never forget the night my mom told my 19-year old brother he couldn’t have dessert after not finishing his meal. Some meals were also spent not talking to each other. Likely, because my mom told me I couldn’t go out that night or because my dad grounded me from my car. Nonetheless, I was still there, with the family, sulking my way through dinner.

Now that my husband and I have a one year old who is eating table foods, the family meal has taken on a whole new meaning. I finally understand why my parents wanted us home for dinner. I now see get how hard it is to have meals ready each night for the family. And I so appreciate how good my mom was at both her job and taking care of her family. The meal truly is what brings you together.

Today people are never disconnected from their social “friends,” but we can’t find the time for a quality conversation with family members. Thirty minutes at the dinner table really makes a huge impact on your family. It wraps up the day nicely and gives your child a daily tradition that they can depend on. It’s not always easy, but whether they like it or not, someday, I want my children to say, “we ate dinner as a family.”