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  • Writer's picturePaige Wilcken

Why Are Regular Family Meals Important?

Family mealtimes can be a topic full of mixed feelings. Many people struggle to get each member of the family together because of everybody's busy schedules. Others can get together as a family but with little ones, mealtimes can be hectic and stressful just trying to get everything situated for each family member.

So why should I even make an effort to hold regular family meals?

There are actually numerous benefits for both you and the children of the family when you hold regular meals together.

For children of a young age, family meals allow them to build a stronger relationship with their parents and experience less stress. Children can also experience an increase in their self-esteem when they spend regular meals with their families.

Children are also more likely to eat a variety of nutritious foods and less likely to eat fried foods and soft drinks when they eat with their family. This can also help prevent childhood obesity as well as help children grow up to be less picky eaters.

Teens in the family can experience better moods when they have regular meals with their family. They can even experience a lower chance of depression and suicidal tendencies as well as a lower chance of participating in risky behavior such as delinquency.

A family as a whole can also experience improved functioning and increased satisfaction in their relationships when they eat together regularly. It also allows there to be increased communication between family members and provides an opportunity for parents to model healthy eating habits.

What does an ideal family meal look like?

During a family meal, parents have the opportunity to teach or share positive experiences. It should be a time where parents influence their children for the better with stories, jokes, and good conversation in general. These types of interactions as a family create stronger family relationships.

Family meals do not even have to be dinner, if a different time of day works better then you can do breakfast or even lunch as a family. The important thing to remember is that the whole family is getting together regularly to talk and stay caught up with each other.

Why meals, why not other activities?

Meals are one of the easier things to get together for since food can be such a good motivator. Teens have actually reported that they are more likely to talk to their parents during dinner than at any other time of the day. So in general, meals are an easy way of getting the family to spend time with each other.

Also, everyone needs to eat, so many people already have mealtimes planned out in their daily schedule. Scheduling mealtimes can be a good way to get everyone in the family together so that everyone knows when to be home.

I understand that getting everyone together at the same time can be difficult. All that matters is your effort in spending quality time with your family as often as possible.


Eisenberg, M. E., Olson, R. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L. H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Fishel, A. (2015). Science says: Eat with your kids. The Conversation.

Lawrence, S. D., & Plisco, M. K. (2017). Family mealtimes and family functioning. Research Gate.

Penkalski, J. (2021). The importance of family mealtime. Family & Children's Center.

Robson, S. M., McCullough, M. B., Rex, S., Munafo, M. R., & Taylor, G. (2020). Family meal frequency, diet, and family functioning: A systematic review with Meta-analyses. PubMed.

Sen, B. (2010). The relationship between frequency of family dinner and adolescent problem behaviors after adjusting for other family characteristics. Journal of Adolescence.

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