Preparing and sharing a simple meal around a table with family and friends is a lost art. Lives busy with work, entertainment, stress and long commutes make shared meals seemingly impossible. Yet nothing can have as much impact in building healthy community.
The US Department of Health and Human Services provides some interesting findings about the benefits of sharing family meals on their website, A Family Guide to Keeping Youth Mentally Healthy & Drug Free:
- According to the 2000 Teen Survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), children who do not eat dinner with their families are 61 percent more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. By contrast, children who eat dinner with their families every night of the week are 20 percent less likely to drink, smoke, or use illegal drugs.
- Other research has shown that teens who eat frequent family dinners are less likely to have sex at young ages, get into fights, or be suspended from school, and they are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide.
- By eating with your children, it is more likely that they will eat healthier foods and more balanced meals.
- Dining together is a chance for parents and children to talk with one another. Parental influence and involvement is an important tool in preventing substance abuse. Regularly sitting down for a meal with your children is one way to connect with them and to be involved with what is happening in their lives.
A shared meal is not beneficial only to families with children. Shared meals can be simple but magnificently effective ways to build community among neighbors, small group members and people we know. Everyone has to eat; why not do it together? In Randy Frazee's new ...