The dining table is the heart of the home. It’s where kids are served a rushed breakfast before catching the school bus, where teens toil over homework, where the family gathers together (however briefly!) for dinner, and it’s where some of us nurse a glass of wine after a tough day at the office.
If you currently huddle around the television, stand at a bar or kitchen island, or even eat in bed at mealtimes, consider a change of pace and a more traditional locale.
Those who invest in and buy wooden tables for family dinners won’t regret it. Here’s why.
Eating at a Dining Table Encourages Better Food Choices
Studies have shown that eating meals at a dining table versus hurriedly eating at a breakfast bar or while sitting in front of the television encourages people to make better dietary choices as it makes more of a shared ‘experience.’ Those who sit watching tv or in their car while eating are also more likely to overeat—after all, they’re distracted and won’t immediately realize when their stomach is full, leading them to consume more than they need.
Looking at younger family members, studies show that if kids eat meals with the rest of the family five times a week, they’re less likely to develop childhood obesity. Their chances of developing disordered eating are 35% lower than in other kids. Further, kids who eat with the rest of their family members at least three times a week are more likely to enjoy a balanced and healthy diet.
Dining at the Dinner Table Strengthens Family Ties
Eating together as a family unit isn’t about obligatory one-on-one time; it’s a time to strengthen the family bond. Sitting down for a nightly dinner allows parents to gain insight into their child’s education, friendships, and interests. Taking time to connect with children in such a way makes them feel safe, cherished, loved, and secure.
Mealtime is also a good opportunity for adults to enjoy focused periods to chat about their day without distraction. From breaking down the banal movie you watched the night before, to connecting over a shared social struggle, concentrated time together is precious. It can help alleviate stress or anxiety, improve communication and boost romantic connection.
Regular Mealtimes Can Improve Academic Participation
Committed time with the family at the dining table seems to help students with more than just their physical health but their academic habits, too. A study by the International Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that in 8 of the 11 countries surveyed, students who had regular main meals with their parents were less likely to have skipped school classes or to have played truant from school.
The dining table can indeed be the hub of a household: a place for community. Why not schedule nightly dinners at the dining table if this isn’t something you do already? You may find that your family ties are strengthened and that the whole household’s eating habits are improved.