5 Reasons We Still Need Family Meals

I should start by saying that I am, by nature, not a family meal person. And if I'm being totally honest, sometimes I let Judah eat while he watches Sesame Street so I can just have a minute. But lately I've been noticing something that's rocked my world.

He's growing up.

Long gone are the days when mommy needs to carry this boy to and from the car. And no way does she need to strap him into a high chair for lunch -- this big boy likes to sit in his daddy's "adult" chair at the table.

So meal times have become something I look forward to, whenever they can happen. School is starting, which means volleyball and football practice, along with new teachers and more homework and the holidays right around the corner.

But if you can -- if you think about it, in the middle of the rush -- sit down and have a meal with your family. Here are 5 reasons why I think you should.

1. Food helps your family open up

This is a given. For many of us, when we eat, "happy chemicals," such as dopamine and serotonin are released into our system and cause us to feel happier. Food calms people down and lowers their inhibitions. It assists people in opening up and speaking. And with kids (and husbands), I figure we can all use some help in encouraging them to open up. Amiright?

2. Sitting at the table offers nutritional accountability

Take it from a former fat kid. When you are allowed to eat in your room, or in front of the tv, or anywhere other than with the family, no one is telling you to eat your vegetables. They're ending up in the trash or in the garden or down the toilet, and they're being replaced with another piece of pizza. Don't ask me how I know this.

3. It sets kids up for success

I'm not scientist, but I'm going to go ahead and believe the experts who dedicate their lives to figuring this stuff out. Apparently children who eat dinner with their family have improved vocabulary, elevated test scores, and perform higher academically than those children who don't eat dinner with their family (click here to read the full article).

4. It forces us to slow down and unplug

We are without a doubt over-scheduling ourselves and our children. I have an almost-2-year-old and I am guilty of it. Each day I pour over the free classes at the library and whether we can fit in swimming lessons, and when should he start t-ball? We need to slow down. Our fast-paced/fast food lifestyle is causing us to live less fulfilling and shorter lives. Sitting down at the table, even if just for an hour to eat dinner with our loved ones, helps us decompress and reconnect after a long day.

3. You only get so many family meals

This one sticks, and I'll tell you why. We all imagine that our family will always be around, but we all know that's not true. We only get so much time with the people we love, and even so, that time may very well be spent far away from each other. I have two brothers. One lives in Dallas, Texas, and the other lives in Seattle, Washington. My parents live in our hometown of Huntington Beach, California, and my family and I are in Greenville, South Carolina. We are literally spread all across the United States and rarely see one another, let alone at the same time. It's something that can easily be taken for granted.

All that being said, please take the time to connect with your family, because life is short, and food is good.

Love and making the time,

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