Once upon a time, the dinner table was a place to gather as a family, enjoy a healthy meal, and spend time with one another. In today’s modern world you’re as likely to find a tablet on the table as a dinner plate. Hockey practice, school, homework, working late, emails, play dates, ballet, and other activities all take a bite out of the amount of time that we spend with our family.

 

Why Eating Together is Important

There are a lot of healthy fast food options out there, but let’s face it when we are pressed for time how often do we really choose the salad over the burger? Fast food doesn’t have to be bad food, but it often is. Sitting down for a home cooked meal, or at a restaurant that prepares food from nutritious ingredients is much healthier than the latest fried offering from the nearest burger chain.

According to Anne Fishel, the co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, writing for the Washington Post, children who eat meals as a family are more likely to consume healthy foods like fruits and veggies, and less likely to drink pop and eat fast food. When those kids grow up they will be at a lower risk of obesity, and more likely to making healthy food choices. The Atlantic, a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also found that kids who do not eat with their family are 40% more likely to be obese.

For young children eating a meal with the whole family offers more than just nutritional benefits. Research has revealed that eating dinner as a family will increase the size of a child’s vocabulary. Moreover, eating dinner with the family is even more effective at expanding a young vocabulary than reading! According to researchers, “young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud.” A larger vocabulary helps students read earlier, and at a higher level.

 

Switch the TV Off and Lighten Up!

According to a European study, northern European children were “significantly more likely to be overweight if they had fewer family breakfasts and more often viewed TV during dinner.” So switch off the TV, and enjoy each other’s company. Anne Fishel also says that “the dinner atmosphere is also important. Parents need to be warm and engaged, rather than controlling and restrictive, to encourage healthy eating in their children.”

Family dinners also reduce the risk of “high-risk behaviours among youth” like smoking, binge drinking, violence, and other detrimental activities.

 

You Don’t Have to be The Chef

The best part about the benefits of eating dinner as a family is that you don’t even have to cook the meal yourself. Not everyone enjoys (or is even good at) cooking, but most of us like eating. A family meal is a family meal whether you make it yourself, or go to a restaurant.

So if you want happy, healthier, and smarter kids, head to your favorite restaurant in Mississauga. Find a restaurant like Glenerin Inn that lets you laugh, relax, and unwind together as a family, and enjoy the benefits of a family meal while leaving the cooking and cleaning to someone else.

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