A family meal means much more than simply eating. Although we recognize the many benefits that arise from eating meals with our loved ones regularly, a new study suggests that this custom could also help protect teenage girls from eating disorders. In this study, American researchers observed that the teenage girls who ate with their families five times or more per week had a 33% lower risk of engaging in extreme weight control behaviours, such as inducing vomiting, taking diet pills, and abusing diuretics or laxatives, than the girls who did not eat with their families as often. However, this relationship was not observed in teenage boys.
Various studies previously suggested the numerous positive consequences that can be attributed to eating meals as a family unit regularly. Notably, higher academic grades, a lower risk of drug abuse and depression, and better development of a child’s language skills. Family meals are also a great opportunity to promote healthy lifestyle habits. It would also seem that families who eat together generally have better eating habits than those who do not.
As today’s parents are caught between careers, school, homework and their children’s extracurricular activities, planning family meals can sometimes be quite puzzling. However, eating a meal together with our family is to nourish both body and soul. They are wonderful occasions for the family to relax, exchange with loved ones, and stay abreast of everyone’s activities. As these moments are indeed precious, you should try and have them as often as you can!