Family meals are an important part of everyone’s life. With the fast-paced world of today where everyone has some gadget to entertain themselves and human contact is definitely losing its value, it is easy to forget the importance of eating together.
Eating collectively has a lot of benefits. The whole family gathers which leads to sharing each other’s day, asking for advice and having fun. And as a result, one’s mind becomes relaxed. A research published in 2006 in Journal of Adolescent Health concludes that regular mealtimes may ease the stress of daily living. We are becoming more and more aware of importance of mental health issues. What about the lifestyle changes that we can do in order to be mentally healthy? Lifestyle changes as small as this one. Making sure that everyone eats dinner together. Apart from the destressing, meals eaten together lead to healthy adolescent development.
Coming to physical health, doing breakfast together is beneficial for adolescents’ dietary intake and weight status as survey done in 2013 from 2,793 middle and high school students showed. Those who had regular family meals consumed relatively healthier food.
This is a message for all of us to return to the Prophetic way of eating together as the hadith says:
Washi ibn Harb reported: They said, “O Messenger of Allah, we eat but we are not filled.” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Perhaps you eat separately?” They said yes. The Prophet said, “Eat your meals together and mention the name of Allah over it, for you will be blessed in it.”Sunan Abī Dāwūd 3764
This tells us that for attaining barakah in our meals, we should say Allah’s name and then eat together.
What comes in the way of having meals together?
- TV and Electronic Gadgets
- Work and School Commitments
All the electronic devices should be banned at dinner time and everyone instead of getting glued to their respective screens in their rooms should come out and join the family. Even if you are not hungry, you can sit with your family and have family time.
Regarding the work and school load, there can be two scenarios, either one is not home, or he/she is home but busy. If one is not home and then it is only logical to say that that person cannot join the meal and instead of waiting for him and staying hungry the others should eat. Apart from that we all know that everyone needs breaks in between the work. So, count the mealtime as a break for you from the stress of projects and deadlines. Chill with your family, help in putting the dishes away and then you can continue whatever you were working on. You will have a fresh mind and as a result you will be more productive.
- Larson, N., MacLehose, R., Fulkerson, J., Berge, J., Story, M., Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2013). Eating Breakfast and Dinner Together as a Family: Associations with Sociodemographic Characteristics and Implications for Diet Quality and Weight Status. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S221226721301335X
- Fulkerson, J., Story, M., Mellin, A., Leffert, N., Neumark-Sztainer, D., French, A. (2006). Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054139X0500577X