Many parents know that family meals play an important role in producing healthier children. Numerous studies show that “kids who eat with their families do better in school and have bigger vocabularies. They also have lower rates of depression, anxiety and eating disorders, as well as healthier diets and better cardiovascular health” (The Conversation, April 30, 2021). Recent research reveals that eating together, with children or others, also benefits adults. Adults who eat with others—as opposed to eating alone—tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and less fast food, they eat more slowly (reducing the risk of overeating), and they eat smaller amounts of food. Adults and children who eat alone while watching TV have an increased risk for obesity.
In addition, parents who regularly eat with their children “reported higher levels of family functioning, greater self-esteem and lower levels of depressive symptoms and stress.” Another study of parents with infants and toddlers found that “couples who attached more meaning and importance to family meals were more satisfied with their marital relationship.”
Jesus ate with His disciples on numerous occasions (Mark 14:17–18; John 21:10–12). The Bible instructs parents to teach their children “when you sit in your house” (Deuteronomy 6:7) and notes that the first Christians took advantage of opportunities to get together and enjoy meals with each other (Acts 2:42, 46). Eating meals together is a wonderful and beneficial way to follow their example—especially during this time of social isolation due to the pandemic. As we consider ways to improve our family relations, our marriages, and our personal and mental health, eating meals together is a very important key. To learn more about ways to be healthy, be sure to read Biblical Principles of Health.