The Benefits of Family Dinner


Now a days because of the hustle of everyday life we tend to just grab a protein bar & rush everyone out the door.  We feel like we do not have the time to sit down & actually have a family dinner.  We do not realize the benefits that can be attained when we gather as a family, sit down and share a meal.

As dozens of studies show, family dinners are good for the brain, body, and spirit.  The belief in the “magic” of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.  Some of the specific benefits of family dinners are:

  • Better academic performance
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater sense of resilience
  • Lower risk of substance abuse
  • Lower risk of teen pregnancy
  • Lower risk of depression
  • Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
  • Lower risk of obesity

Dr. Anne K Fishel, a family therapist, in her blog series Food for Thought, talks about the importance of enjoying family dinners.  In her post It’s Science: Eat Dinner Together, she goes to explain how research has shown that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to. Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud.  Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.

Children who eat regular family dinners also consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and micronutrients, as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks.  Young adults who ate regular family meals as teens are less likely to be obese and more likely to eat healthy once they live on their own.

In addition, studies link regular family dinners with lowering a host of high risk teenage behaviors parents fear such as smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity.  In one study of more than 5,000 Minnesota teens, researchers concluded that regular family dinners were associated with lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.  In a recent study, kids who had been victims of cyberbullying bounced back more readily if they had regular family dinners.  Family dinners have been found to be more powerful deterrent against high-risk teen behaviors than church attendance or good grades.


Now what is so magical about mealtime?  At this year’s expo Dr Anne K Fishel will be having a Seminar entitled: How to Get the Most out of Your Family Dinners: Eat Well, Play, Talk, Experiment, and Engage with the Wider World. Dr. Fishel will lend her perspective as a therapist, community organizer, and working mother as to how food and conversation has the power to strengthen families, nourish children’s development and wellbeing, and maybe even change the world.  She will discuss the importance of playing with your food, telling stories, and using cooking and dinner as a time to try out behaviors and spark activism.

Dr Anne Fishel, Ph.D., is the author of Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids.  She’s also a co-founder of The Family Dinner Project. In her private practice Dr. Fishel focuses on clinical supervision as well as individual, couples, and family therapy.

We are very excited to Have Dr. Fishel at our event & we hope that you’ll attend and enjoy this great information.



Works Cited:
Fishel, Dr. Anne K. Its Science: Eat Dinner Together. 27 january 2015. <;.


Catherine E Snow, Diane E Beals. “Mealtime talk that supports literacy development.” New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development (2006): 51-66.

Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA. “Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents.” (n.d.).

Jerica M. Berge, PhD, MPH, LMFT, CFLE, et al. The Protective Role of Family Meals for Youth Obesity: 10-Year Longitudinal Associations. n.d. <;.

Nicole I. Larson, MPH, RD, et al. Family Meals during Adolescence Are Associated with Higher Diet Quality and Healthful Meal Patterns during Young Adulthood. n.d. <;.

Sen, Bisakha. “The relationship between frequency of family dinner and adolescent problem behaviors after adjusting for other family characteristics.” Journal of Adolescence (2010): 187-196.


One thought on “The Benefits of Family Dinner

  1. Pingback: Dr. Fishel in New York State | Home for Dinner

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