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An Open Letter to the Busy American Family: It’s Time to Rediscover the Family Dinner Table



Dear Busy American Family,

You’re busy. We get it. But, sometimes it seems that the traditional family meal at home has gone the way of the horse-and-buggy, despite the  abundance of research indicating that family meals have multiple, physiological  and mental advantages.

It is undeniable that today’s fast-paced lifestyles make it difficult for a family to find the time to eat together. Between the demand for longer hours in the workplace, after-school activities and long commutes, dinner often consists of takeout food, grabbing a quick sandwich or putting a frozen pizza in the oven. Not only are most of these options are high in calories and fat while low in fiber and nutrients, they are often eaten quickly, a practice that can lead to overeating and poor digestion. Moreover, rather than eating such meals together at the table they are often eaten separately or in front of the TV.

The Positive Effects of Family Dinner are Far-Reaching

Eating dinner together at the table can lend to closer relationships, and enhanced emotional and social wellbeing and improved health. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, family meals tend to include more fruits and vegetables along with less fried food, characteristics that lead to better health and less obesity. Yet beyond the nutrition aspect, they are a time to talk and build relationships, the positive effects of which are far-reaching, as we’re sure you know.

Studies indicates that children from homes that have frequent family dinners are more likely to have better grades and less likely to smoke, drink and use illicit drugs. The togetherness leads to less stress and tension in the home and promotes a sense of belonging. Furthermore, it develops communication skills as well as provides natural opportunities for parents to teach social skills and table manners.

Think You’re Just Too Busy? Here are Some Tips for Adding Family Dinners to Your Routine

  • Start slowly, setting an easy-to-reach goal such as two family dinners per week. Gradually increase your goal.
  • Make it more of an event, creating a mood with candles, colored napkins and attractive dishes.
  • Eliminate distractions by turning off phones and the TV. If you wish, play soothing background music at a low volume.
  • Talk together, sharing ideas and experiences. Keep the conversation on positive topics.
  • Be prepared by keeping fruits, vegetables and other healthful meal ingredients on hand.
  • Plan menus together, allowing each family member to pick a favorite item.
  • Preparing a meal in a crock-pot in the morning is a great way to come home to a wonderful meal.
  • Everyone can take part in the preparation. The children can help cook and set the table.

So perhaps it’s time for Americans to rediscover the family dinner table, and enjoy its immeasurable benefits. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed! The investment of time and effort involved in eating a family dinner together at home can pay off in big dividends. It creates a supportive environment that fosters bonding and many other benefits. These meals are also a great way to slow down and relax, a nightly tryst that all members of the family can look forward to during their busy day.

In good health,

The Live in the Now team


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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