Growing up in my Italian household meant that many family times were centered around one thing: FOOD. As a teenager I remember sitting down to a home cooked meal with my mom, dad and sister every night. And there was only one expectation as we ate together as a family: we had to talk! There was no television blaring to distract us from each other. There were no drive through meals at McDonalds. Just simple family communication. “How was your day?” “What did you learn in school?” “What would you like to do when you graduate from college?”
In today’s world it seems that every member of the family goes in a different direction. Family dinners that involve actual interaction with other people have been replaced with quick trips to fast food restaurants and take-out Chinese that is eaten in isolation. Without a doubt, the art of the family dinner has been lost. And with that loss, comes considerable consequences:
Researchers have found that family meals may protect against anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and compulsive overeating in girls. The results of the study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that girls who shared meals with their families five or more times per week were nearly 30 percent less likely to exhibit an eating disorder than girls who had family meals less often.
Researchers also found that children who have regular meals with the family are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, and they are more psychosocially well adjusted.
Even if you have to pick up take out, try getting your family together for dinner at least a few nights a week. Talk to your kids about what’s going on in their lives. And in the end, your children will be healthier for it!
Live the Life You’ve Always Wanted!
Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle