Family Mealtimes | Views by Jo

As I caught a break this week, between interviews and school runs, I sat down and had a cheeky read of Red Magazines, April issue. I came across an article that sparked my interest. It was talking about the benefits of family mealtimes and how it is their number one solution to building a happy family. Further to this the article claimed, that “regular family mealtimes are linked with both children and adults being a healthy weight and children having a higher self-esteem.” I thought that this may be a rather bold statement so I decided to do some research. The more research I did the more I was swayed to the belief that family mealtimes have considerable benefits to families, children and adults.

I was also surprised because the more reading and research I did the more I established that for many families sitting down and having a family meal is not a normal occurrence. I grew up in a household where every meal was a family meal, it was only ever not so if we were at school or if we were home alone.

During my research I found articles that claim the benefits of family meals include; good effects on mental health, that children (especially girls) are less likely to be overweight, that everyone tends to eat less saturated fat but furthermore, besides the benefits to health, family mealtimes can stretch to decreasing the likelihood of substance abuse in teenagers and reducing the chances of teen pregnancy. I absolutely did not realise that family mealtimes could have such a range of positive benefits; in my naïve way I thought that family mealtime benefits were as straightforward as being improved conversational skills and family bonding. How wrong was I!

I then happened to have a quick catch up chat with one of clients and I mentioned that I had read this interesting article and she said “that has been one of the best outcomes of having a Kaya, she has brought family mealtime back into our week and now 9 times out of 10 we will sit down for supper together”. I thought that was also interesting, that it took someone external to reintroduce and implement family mealtimes.

We don’t need someone else to do this for us, we can all bring family mealtimes back into our life. We must just not take this to the extreme and force everyone to be at every meal and panic when they are not but if we can work on having 3-4 family meals a week the benefits could be unimaginable. It may be tricky to start off with but if we make simple meals, ban all mobiles and tablets and don’t aim to sit at the table for too long, we can reap the huge benefits delivered by such a simple solution. I for one will be trying this tactic!