Eating meals together encourages families to make healthier food choices and become better connected. Studies have shown that children who eat with their families do better in school and have bigger vocabularies. They also have lower rates of depression and eating disorders. As it turns out, family meals have many of the same benefits for adults as they have for kids.
Research from Harvard Medical School finds that parents and grandparents who engage in family meals are less likely to skip meals, more likely to have a healthier diet, and have improved moods. Fortunately, these benefits extend beyond the traditional family structure. Any communal meals can provide nutrition and mental health benefits. One survey even found that communal meals lead to enhanced performance among firefighters.
Looking beyond healthy eating, parents who engage in regular family meals are more satisfied with their marital relationship. This is likely because mealtimes serve as a time to communicate and establishment of meaningful rituals.
The pandemic has encouraged more families to re-establish family meals as a time to connect and recharge during a challenging time. Hopefully, this evidence about the benefits of family meals for health and happiness will push more families to stick with the practice.