March is Nutrition Month and this year, we want to remind you that healthy eating is not just about the foods we eat, but how we eat them and who we eat with. With our busy schedules, many of us might be eating alone to maximize time and efficiency. But have we overlooked the importance of eating together? When was the last time you sat down at a table with friends and family to have a meal?
There is good evidence that supports the finding that adolescents who often have meals with their parents can better adjust socially, as in getting into fewer fights in comparison to adolescents who do not have meals with their parents often. There is also fair evidence that adolescents who eat with family are observed to be less likely to develop eating disorders, eat better, do better in school, establish a more positive outlook on life, and are more engaged and motivated. Having meals with others is also important for other age groups as well. For example, seniors who eat with other adults have improved intake of food, and for seniors who have meals in a family setting, there is fair evidence that shows improved health and quality of life.
It is important to designate a time to eat together with the family, even though it may be difficult to do so because of conflicting schedules. Not only is there fair research showing that we have better nutrient status and better food intake from eating with others, but it is also important to develop healthy psychological and social relationships with food and with our friends and family. Not only does nutrient quality count, but also the quality of our relationships with people and food as well!