3 Health Benefits of Family Dinners

3 Health Benefits of Family Dinners

family dinners

As we move into the holidays, we have the opportunity to celebrate with those we care about most over a delicious meal. Let these opportunities be a reminder for the rest of the year to create time with the people we love while enjoying healthy food. The benefits of these experiences go beyond bonding and can actually impact our health in a positive way.

Eating with loved ones creates an environment that releases brain chemicals that stimulate proper digestion. The process begins with cooking. When our kitchens and homes have the aroma of delectable foods, our sense of smell stimulates our brain to create good digestive juices in the stomach, like hydrochloric acid, and releases enzymes from the pancreas. Here are three ways that eating with loved ones is healthy for our body and soul:

1. Slowing down: When we dine with people whose company we enjoy, the body relaxes and we sit back and slow down. This is good for our bodies because healthy digestion begins in our mouths. Salivary amylase and lipase break down fat and carbohydrates before they reach our stomachs. Eating rapidly causes us to skip this important first step. The goal is to chew food about 25 times per bite. When food is chewed slowly, the body has time to produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes and once it reaches the stomach, the hormone ghrelin signals satiety to the brain. Eating rapidly impairs feedback to the brain and will leave you feeling fuller than necessary.

2.  Healthier eating habits: Rutgers reviewed 68 studies around the topic of family meals and found that 40% of the average family’s budget is spent eating out, typically not together. Families who ate together at home raised children who ate more fruits, vegetables, fiber, vitamin-rich foods, and consumed less fast food. These families also had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than the families who frequently ate out.

3.  Reduces stress and improves mood: Laughing and pleasant conversation improves the experience of eating and reduces stress levels. Regular family meals (without the television on) encourage communication, bonding, and interpersonal support. Teens who ate with their families versus eating alone were less likely to show signs of depression or risk taking behavior.

Need inspiration for your next family dinner? Check out our great Honest recipes that are healthy, easy, and delicious.

- Dr. Thalia Farshchian, Naturopathic Doctor

This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Before undertaking any course of treatment or dietary/health changes, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.