Establishing a family meal is incredibly important to developing strong relationships with your family and learning about the day to day of what family members are dealing with. It can also serve as a time for problem solving and picking up on any red flags before issues arise. While these social and behavioral benefits have been known for awhile now, some research emerged recently indicating that adolescents have healthier diets with a greater frequency of family meals.
This intuitively make sense. One might imagine that with improved relationships within the family and a place to provide a nutrient dense meal that better diets will emerge among the teenagers that fall into this category of more "frequent family meals".
Strictness Improves Nutrition?
According to the study, parents that enforce family meals tend to have a more "authoritative" parenting style. Interestingly, this authoritative role in the child's life (and improved nutrition!) showed a stronger role with opposite sex dyads (father with daughter, mother with son). Although the methodology of the study could stand to be improved, I thought this was an interesting relationship to extrapolate.
I think this shows the importance of sitting around the dinner table, with a well balanced meal atop, and having a conversation with your family. It is a simple practice that can be overlooked in our overworked and over-scheduled society.
Happy family dining everyone!