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Here Are Some Benefits of Having a Family Dinner

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

If you want to get your teens’ attention, improve their eating behaviors and have a relaxing time too, just sit down to a family dinner, University of Guelph says. Not only that, the very activity of having a family dinner can help you communicate and connect emotionally with each other. Another bonus is that everybody’s more likely to eat additional fruits and vegetables — as opposed to fast-foods — when they’re at the dinner table.

There are so many benefits of a family dinner time that it’s hard to enumerate them. To begin with, other research has already found that children who ate together with their family five or more times a week were less likely to suffer from mental disorders. Additionally, teens who had frequent (five to seven) meals with their family were less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

And, as the featured study mentioned, children who share family meals three or more times a week are also more likely to eat healthy foods, and are less likely to develop eating disorders or become obese. Granted, finding time to eat meals together as a family can sometimes be a challenge, but I promise it’s well worth the effort.

If your work schedule precludes sitting down for a family dinner, adjust your family mealtime to earlier in the day — even an early breakfast. This is also a useful strategy for families with multiple after-school or evening activities and is, in fact, one I recommend for all families looking to optimize their health.

One of the straightforward reasons why is because it allows time for parents to sit down and talk with their children and teens about what’s going on in their lives, with their friends and at school. In terms of your health, the earlier you eat your dinner the better — ideally at least three hours prior to bed. This will promote good mitochondrial and overall health while preventing cellular damage from occurring.

In short, since your body uses the least number of calories when sleeping, adding excess fuel at this time will generate excessive free radicals that will damage your tissues, accelerate aging and contribute to chronic disease.

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