Table Talk: Eating Together Makes Us Happier <em>And</em> Healthier

Why Eating Dinner Together Keeps Us HappyHealthy

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

At HuffPost, we’ve always believed in the importance of family meals. We know from experience that spending time with the people we love and talking about important subjects – personal news, world news, and everything in between – makes us happier people and stronger families.

Two years ago, Arianna Huffington wrote:

Something magical happens when you are talking over a meal -- instead of making a specific point of meeting in order to talk. Your whole body relaxes. The food has a truth serum effect. Things come up and are dealt with that wouldn't have come up anywhere else.

We don't need scientists to tell us that family dinners are good for the soul. But researchers can show us how eating family meals helps us to stay healthy. This week, scientists said that children whose families eat together often are more likely to eat healthier foods like fruits, veggies and vitamins. They’re also less likely to eat unhealthy foods. On top of this, eating at home usually costs less than getting takeout or eating at a restaurant. Triple win!

In her book, called (appropriately!) "The Family Dinner," Laurie David discusses the many ways in which eating together can help us grow:

Everyone will be happier as a result [of eating together] because, over time, you will probably start getting along better. I believe your family will be nourished in ways no multivitamin can come close to. And you'll be making dinner history yourself -- by creating memories and rituals [your family] will carry and savor forever.

When parents and kids have busy schedules, it’s not always easy to meet for dinner as a family. But it’s important to do it as much as possible. Science is beginning to show what we knew all along: that the more we eat together, the happier –- and healthier -– we’ll be.

Questions for discussion:
  • How often do you help with dinner?
  • Do you have regular kitchen chores?
  • What is your favorite or least favorite meal?
  • If you were making dinner, what would you make?
  • Was it more common for families to eat together when your parents were kids than it is now?

In her new cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

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