Breaking News
More () »

Dinnertime together has mental, physical benefits for families

Dinner time can be a stressful time for many families. Parents rushing home from work, kids involved in after school, activities but sitting down to dinner together can be beneficial for everyone.

SYLVANIA, OH (WTOL) - It's not uncommon for families to skip dinner time together with everyone's busy schedules.

New research however suggests gathering around the table once a day has both positive mental and physical effects on families.

Dinner time can be a stressful time for many families. Parents rushing home from work, kids involved in after school activities.

For Summer and John Lehman, dinner time is the place where the family reconnects and gets to know each other best.

"We get to find out what's going on at school, what kind of homework they have, plans for the rest of the week. I mean…everything," said Summer.

But it isn't always easy to get everyone gathered around the dinner table at once.

"Whether it's competitive cheerleading, travel hockey, travel baseball, football…they're always on the move, constantly," said John.

But making the time for a family dinner definitely has an impact.

"Research has shown over the last decade that families who eat meals together frequently tend to be not only mentally healthier but they're also physically healthier as well," said OraLee Macklenar, Behavioral Specialist at Mercy Health.

It can be something as simple as involving kids in mealtime preparation, setting a specific routine and getting rid of all distractions, like technology, at the dinner table.

The Lehmans say phones aren't allowed and the television is turned off.

"We have to really work on getting more perspective of our time with our loved ones and family than we do with giving it to everything else and I think with all of our distractions today that's a constant battle," said Macklenar.

Not only do the Lehmans find sharing a meal together once a day helps bring them together more, but it forces them to make healthier dinners, and it's more cost effective.

"For our family to go out to dinner these day, we're easily, a family of six, at a hundred to a hundred and twenty-five dollars," said John.

Dr Macklenar suggests dinner time talk should be positive. So if you're waiting to discuss that bad grade on the History exam or how they came home a little too late the night before, wait until after the meal.

"Save that for another time. Have a family meeting and hold all of the disciplinary or behavioral issues for another time because then children are going to dread coming to the table and they're less likely to show up," said Mackleniar.

Just some food for thought for today's busy families.