Eating food with family and friends is good for you

We may not always think about how we eat impacts our health as much what we eat. So this Nutrition Month, let’s talk about how we eat and the potential of food to bring families and friends together!

Devices at the dinner table

Friends enjoy together an hot coffee cup in a bar in Copenhagen. Close up on the women hands using mobile phones.

The other day I went out for a much needed chat over delicious food with an old friend. We both laughed when we noticed that the first thing we did was put our phones on the table as we sat down. Though we were eager to catch up with each other, we had to have our phone close by just in case of … actually for no real good reason, just the habit of being “connected”.

In a recent Dietitians of Canada study, 12 percent of Canadians say they look at texts or emails during meals. It’s not just the younger Instagram-their-food generation as Will Ferrell shows us in this funny clip. Whether you’re expecting an urgent work email or absolutely must google something to prove your point, you too break the “no-devices-at-the-table” rule.

Meals at home

Grandfather cooks a meal for the family with the help of his grandson

Families are busy and by the time Liana is home from soccer practice and Liam is back from his music class, it’s almost time for bed! It takes effort and creativity to make time for family meals. Many Canadians say it’s challenging to find the time to eat with friends and family. In our region, 20% of youth say that they eat a meal with an adult family member less than 3 times during the school week.

Enjoying meals with family and friends is a good time to re-connect and really talk to each other – free of devices and other distractions. Research also shows that eating with others helps us eat better.

Benefits of family meals for children include:

  • eating more fruit and veggies,
  • learning about family and cultural traditions,
  • better school performance,
  • better vocabulary for preschoolers, and
  • less risk of eating disorders.

Teens who eat with their family are less likely to smoke, use drugs or alcohol, or to participate in serious fights.

Meals at work

This President’s Choice video on eating together sure does pull at the heartstrings. Eating alone in front of our workstations isn’t all that unusual. Yes, this may be due to unavoidable reasons (e.g. lunch time used to run an errand) or for positive health behaviours (e.g. workout at lunch). But in general, it is good for us to have a chance to socialize during breaks and recharge for the rest of the work day – eating our lunches in the company of others is a great way to do so!

So this Nutrition Month, make time to share meals with your friends, colleagues, and family!

Try your best to make time to eat in the company of others. Invite a friend over to try out a new recipe or have a potluck where everyone brings a dish. Leave your workstation to enjoy your meal in the company of your colleagues.

Eating with your family can happen at breakfast, lunch or dinner – they all count! If school nights are busy, try to plan a weekend family brunch - Sunday waffles may become a tradition. Research shows benefits of family meals when they’re enjoyed at least four times a week. Here are some helpful tips on planning family meals. As the saying goes, people that eat together, stay together!

And don’t forget to put away the devices to really enjoy sharing food and good conversations!

Discover new recipes, facts and tips to help you stay healthy this Nutrition Month.