Family Dinners: The Fun Way to Grow Healthy Teens!

The key to raising healthy kids who grow into adults with positive lifestyle choices could be as simple as having regular family meals. The power of sitting down to eat together as a family is remarkable, as it can help curb eating disorders, obesity, and inadequate nutrition. In fact, research shows that teens who share at least five meals per week with their families are less likely to engage in behaviors such as bingeing, purging, using laxatives, skipping meals, or smoking cigarettes to lose weight.

The Benefits of Family Meals

Family mealtime does not only foster stronger relationships between parents and children, but it also contributes to better mental and emotional health, higher self-esteem, and improved academic performance. Additionally, the practice of eating together can help kids develop better eating habits and foods preferences as they grow older, reducing their chances of becoming overweight or falling victim to various eating disorders.

Combatting the Obesity Epidemic

Childhood obesity is a pressing problem in most countries around the world. Alarmingly, the World Health Organization estimates that over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. The health risks associated with obesity are numerous and potentially life-threatening, with type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and cardiovascular disease among the most common.

Family mealtime can play a critical role in combatting this global health crisis. Researchers have found that children who eat at least three meals a week with their families are 12 percent less likely to be overweight than those who do not.

Encouraging Healthy Eating Patterns

By sharing regular meals and creating comfortable family dining experiences, parents can instill a sense of control and satisfaction related to eating. Researcher Barbara Fiese says, “For children and adolescents with disordered eating, mealtime provides a setting in which parents can recognize early signs and take steps to prevent detrimental patterns from turning into full-blowing eating disorders.”

Family meals may provide the chance for parents to educate their children about proper portion control, helping them make healthier food choices and strategies for eating mindfully. Furthermore, kids who grow up with regular family dinner rituals tend to consume more fruits and vegetables as adults – evidence that the impact of this routine extends beyond childhood and adolescence.

Tips for Making Family Meals Happen

In our fast-paced world, finding the time, energy, and motivation to prioritize family mealtime can be challenging. However, the long-term benefits for both parents and children are substantial. Here are some tips to help make family dinners a lasting tradition:

Plan Ahead

Setting a consistent mealtime and planning out the week’s menu in advance can help parents stay committed and organized. Choose healthy recipes that are both child-friendly and appeal to the whole family.

Keep It Simple

Family meals do not have to be elaborate or time-consuming to be valuable. Even a quick homemade pizza or a simple bowl of pasta can be a nourishing, stress-free way to connect and share quality time together.

Get Everyone Involved

Involve your children in meal planning, shopping for groceries, and cooking tasks. This not only teaches them valuable life skills but also fosters a sense of responsibility and ownership over the family’s well-being.

Make Conversations Fun and Engaging

Mealtimes are an excellent opportunity for parents to bond with their children and learn more about their lives, emotions, and interests. Encourage engaging and open conversations by asking open-ended questions that require more than one-word answers. For example, you might ask your child what they would do if they won a million dollars.

Be a Good Role Model

Lastly, parents should demonstrate healthy eating habits and considerate table manners, as children are more likely to adopt these behaviors when they have a positive example to follow.


Establishing and maintaining a family mealtime tradition can undoubtedly contribute to raising healthy kids who will make better lifestyle choices as they grow older. The benefits span from nurtured relationships and improved mental health to promoting healthier eating habits, preventing obesity, and reducing the incidence of eating disorders. With the right strategies in place, families can make the most of this precious time together and build a foundation for a lifetime of well-being.