5 Reasons Why Eating Meals Together Can Improve Our Health

5 Reasons Why Eating Meals Together Can Improve Our Health

It’s the classic suburban family trope in the movies – the family gathered around the dinner table. Today, parents may utilise a ‘phone box’ rule, where phones are (sometimes reluctantly) slipped in to encourage open communication and screen-free family time. But, what began as a way to connect (and disconnect from our screens) has become scientifically beneficial. Studies now show that the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.¹

Plenty of research backs up the health and social benefits of eating together as a family. But the concept of ‘family’ isn’t limited to genetics; it evolves depending on where you are in your life, and the connections you make along the way. We know that eating with loved ones can improve relationships and communication and foster a feeling of togetherness, but there are plenty more benefits to explore. Today, discover 5 reasons why eating with others can make a mighty difference.

Family meals can be a protective factor for mental health

A 2021 study looked at how often families ate meals together and its effect on common mental disorders in children and teenagers over eight months. The findings suggested that regular family meals were a protective factor for mental health.²

The study compared those who had only one regular family meal, to students who had no regular family meals. The evidence suggested that regular family meals could positively affect the self-esteem, well-being, and school performance of children and adolescents.³

Family meals can help improve communication skills

Dinner is the perfect time to review the day or the week that has passed and to talk about upcoming events, school tests or other things of note. Some studies have even shown that in young children, the presence of parents at mealtimes helps with language development, communication skills and school involvement, helping to reduce the risk of problem behaviours and conduct disorders.

Home cooking teaches kids valuable life skills

The family meal routine doesn’t just mean sitting at the table and eating. Home cooking is a good opportunity to share the domestic load and spend time together, so one person is not responsible for shopping, cooking and cleaning. These are also good times to reflect and practise mindfulness – for example when performing mindful activities such as washing dishes, loading the dishwasher or chopping veggies.

Home cooking allows you to make mindful decisions about what you eat

In our fast-paced lives, it’s tempting to opt for takeout delivered straight to our door instead of cooking from scratch (let’s face it – life gets busy, and finding time to shop, cook, and clean isn't always feasible). However, there are many benefits to preparing meals at home. You have control over the ingredients, the oils you use, and the cookware you select. Cooking also encourages physical activity as you move around the kitchen, stirring, sautéing, grilling and tidying up, which keeps your brain engaged. While there’s no shame in indulging in takeout occasionally, consider limiting how often you do so – maybe to once a week, once every two weeks, or even less frequently, depending on what suits your lifestyle best!

Chopping ingredients

Eating together can help us to live longer 

Studies suggest that people live longer when they eat with others regularly. This makes sense, as feeling lonely or isolated can lead to health problems like a weakened immune system or even depression, whereas having a strong social life is known to help you live longer, and this includes sharing meals. 

We can learn a lot from the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, which focuses on fresh foods, lean proteins and olive oil. In places where this diet is common, sharing meals is a big part of life and contributes to longer lives. This diet is also linked to lower rates of heart disease and other health issues. Eating together, as many families do regularly, helps reduce stress, improve mental health, and lead to a longer, happier life.

These are just 5 benefits to eating meals together as a family – there are many other benefits to help you and your family live longer, healthier and happier lives. We thank you for joining us on our mission to live a more conscious lifestyle.

For an extra dose of inspiration, explore our recipes and other resources for conscious cooks.