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The Importance of Eating as a Family

Eating together as a family was always a priority for my parents. My siblings and I would sit down, at the same time, to enjoy dinner as often as our busy schedules permitted. Usually, my mom and dad made us turn off the TV in an effort to get us focusing on the food and on the family.

However, a new study released by the University of Minnesota and reported in the New York Times shows that the television doesn't play a role in affecting dining habits. According to the article, the results were quite surprising:

Families who watched TV at dinner ate just about as healthfully as families who dined without it. The biggest factor wasn’t whether the TV was on or off, but whether the family was eating the meal together.

The study also showed that girls are less likely to have body image problems and boys consume more vegetables when eating accompanied by their parents.

All of this makes me wonder, how often do you eat with your family? Did you eat with your parents when you were little? If so, was the TV on or off?


Join The Conversation
mellafe mellafe 9 years
My mom works so no proper family meals for me, but on weekends we all eat together. In winter time, we turn the tv on to watch news, but in summer we eat in the patio. Every Sunday we go to my grandparents' house to lunch. EVERY SUNDAY.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
We always ate together, tv off at the dinner table growing up. I am convinced it is why we werent obese (along with regular exercise and a good diet) when you plop yourself in front of the TV you tend to eat more
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
My family was always busy, but we made it a point to sit down and have dinner together. Whatever our plans were before and after dinner was one thing, but dining together was special, calming, and a daily occurrence.
gaylag77 gaylag77 9 years
As a child we ate diner as a family EVERY night, we even had to ask to be excused before we could get up from the table. We always watched TV during our meal, but the TV was in the dining room so we were still sitting together at a table to eat. Mostly we had to watch M.A.S.H. with diner, it was my parents favorite show.
fragiletearz fragiletearz 9 years
We're so bad about this. *slaps hand* Gotta do better!
tati33 tati33 9 years
usually since I live with my mom we'll eat together that is if she's not working in the evening..however, we usually eat in front of the TV..which althought the study says it doesnt affect at all, i dont think is the best..I think we're going to make an effort to eat dinner with the TV off..
BlairBear BlairBear 9 years
As a child we ate together almost every night and the tv was in the other room so it didn't matter if it was on or off. My family now eats together every night. We turn the tv off and ask each other what was your favorite thing about the day. It makes them look back and actually think about their day and talk about it. I love that. looseseal- I tell my daughter every day that her body is beautiful, there are girls around here that are her age (7) that wear short skirts and belly shirts, its disgusting. So I make sure she knows she is beautiful without wearing all that crap that they wear.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
Okay, kids eat more veggies with parents around to make them do it, no surprise there, didn't need a study to tell me that. But girls have more healthy body image? What's the relation there? It's not like my family is constantly saying stuff like "You keep eating like that you're going to get fat" (okay, once or twice, haha), but does anyone's family ever go out of their way to tell their kids their body is fine and they don't need to count their calories? Anybody?
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I don't think my family ever dined together in front of the TV, and if we did it was when we would get take out and was more "hanging out" than having an official dinner. But that fact was was news to me! I always thought people ate worse and more in front of the TV, even if it was with their fam. Fun fact of the day!
Diana172 Diana172 9 years
I would love to be able to do this, haha.
rubialala rubialala 9 years
When we were little, we always ate dinner together, it was at 6 p.m. every night no matter what. My mom usually made something from scratch. Occasionally we would get a "treat" and eat in front of the t.v. Hubby, the boy, and I eat dinner together as a family now as much as we can. It's not always at the same time, and it's in front of the t.v. more often, and I certainly don't cook like my mom, but we're together.
SummerBaby SummerBaby 9 years
when i was younger my family and i always sat down to eat dinner... it was very important for us to be home on time.. and then as we got older it got a little harder out scheduals starting changing.. with part time jobs and school. so now that we are older we make it a point to have dinner together about once a week.. :) family dinner is a good thing to have!
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
I ate with my family. Everyday during the week we were to be at the table at 6pm. Weekends were different, as we were usually with friends or other family. This is something I will continue to do when I have kids.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I ate sitting down at the table with the whole family about 5 nights a week until I moves out!!! NONE of my friends families were like that! And sometimes we had the TV on, sometimes it was off, it depended if it was news time or if something realllllyyyy good was on.
keiren63 keiren63 9 years
After his older siblings moved out, my husband's parents always had the tv on during dinner and he remembers it with much dislike. We make it a rule to always have dinner together and no tv. My rule for the kids is that they have to at least try what's on the table and if they don't like it, their only option is a peanut butter sandwich.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
NO TV!!! The purpose of eating as a family is for everyone to catch up on what's going on at school, work or discuss weekend plans and I firmly believe that it helps kids be more open with their parents. A TV on will not allow for the table conversation to happen. I'm a single parent and I always make that my son and I eat together at the table, even if it's a snack.
ALSW ALSW 9 years
My family always tried to eat together. And when I was much younger, we always did Sunday dinners at my grandparents' house as well. The only time that the tv was on during dinner was if my dad needed to watch the weather. Otherwise, it was never on.
Magoos27 Magoos27 9 years
My husband and I have very busy schedules. We both work full time, he drives 90 minute one way, and we are both in school. However, we still make a point of sitting down together for an hour an night to have dinner together. I get home earlier so I start dinner, always processed stuff for us, and make sure it is ready shortly after he gets home. Some nights that is the only together time we have until bed time. We are trying to develope good, healthy habits that we can pass on to our future children.
rosey_y rosey_y 9 years
We always ate as a family and the thought of the tv being on during meal time was ludicrous! It never even crossed our minds because it was just not the done thing in our household. We always ate at the dining table and the tv wasn't even in the same room - we only had one in the living room.
XSofieX XSofieX 9 years
I live on my own now, but my family ALWAYS ate dinner together during my childhood and the TV was NEVER on. Its not like its impossible to do, my parents also had very demanding and busy jobs but we'd always get together in the evening. I never quite understood why the TV was on at some people's houses, did they not have anything to say to each other or what???
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