Eating meals together as a family just might be the ultimate parenting hack. What else can you do in under an hour that has been shown to improve your kids' academic performance, increase their self-esteem, and reduce their risk of depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and obesity?
Over the last two decades, study after study has shown that simply taking a few minutes each day to turn off screens and genuinely connect with each other over food can improve the physical and mental health of all family members involved.
Not only do family meals help you connect and bond, but they’re also a great time for you to model healthy eating habits and encourage fussy eaters to try different foods. Our little ones are sponges. When they see us trying and enjoying different foods, they’re more likely to do the same and develop positive associations with food and mealtimes.
If you don’t usually eat together as a family, don’t panic! It’s never too late to start. You can start by scheduling just one meal per week and slowly build it up. For my number one parenting hack on how to get more family meals into the week, check out this blog post.
Rachel Cohen is a clinical psychologist specialising in body image and eating disorders.