“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house…” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
The family sitting at the table together for breakfast and supper used to be common. However, in this fast-paced world in which we live such has become less common. “In the past 20 years, the frequency of family dinners has declined 33%” (thescramble.com/family-dinner-challenge-statistics).
There are several advantages to a family eating a meal at home together. (1) Eating at home saves money. In 2007 the average household spent $8 per meal outside of the home and only $4.50 per meal made in the home kitchen (cnn.com/2011/10/25/family-dinner). Only about one-third of the price of a meal in a typical restaurant is food cost. (2) Eating together is typically more nutritious and healthy. The University of Minnesota found that family meals were associated with improved intakes of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium rich foods, protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, B-6, and folate (cfs.purdue,edu/cff/spellsuccessfactsheet.p.d.f.) Children of families who eat together are 35% less likely to engage in an eating disorder, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods, and 12% less likely to be overweight (human.cornell/outreach/upload/family-dinner).
However, it is not just economics and nutrition. There are other benefits. Children not eating dinner with their families are 61% more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. Children who eat dinner with their families nightly are 20% less likely to drink, smoke, or use illegal drugs. Teens who share frequent family dinners are less likely to have sex at young ages, or be suspended from school (healthylearningpatterns.org/blog/dinner-statistics). There is a correlation between the family meal and good behavior.
Families need to spend time together. Sharing a meal and having a conversation around a table is one way to accomplish this. Turn off the TV, and all electronic devices. Enjoy each other’s company.