Creating family rituals, slowing down our pace and reconnecting with food

Written by  · 4 min read

The evolution of the modern diet has brought many changes to our society in terms of both physical and mental health. We have been busier than ever with schedules and activities, which doesn't necessarily mean we are connected to each other and to the food we eat. Being in a hurry makes parents feed their children (and themselves) the fastest and usually not the most nutritious meals. To experience the dinner table as a family tradition, being able to bring back wholesome meals from our ancestors while looking at each other's face, having a nice conversation and being present at the moment is proven to be protective against poor mental health and connected to the well-being of adolescents (Harrison, Norris, Obeid, Fu, Weistangel & Sampson, 2015).

The process of preparing a meal, from planning to washing the produce or seasoning meat, is filled with teachable opportunities. Each diced vegetable is a conversation starter about how that particular food will nourish our body. Research shows the benefits of frequent shared family meals such as reduction in the odds for overweight and increase of the odds for eating healthy food (Amber J Hammons, Barbara H Fiese, 2011). Being a mom to four little kids, I see firsthand how children are eager to learn, and this is a wonderful opportunity to teach them skills and knowledge that they won’t forget, making the sweetest memories of bonding, of having conversations, looking at each other with intention and no rush. Even if parents don’t know what to talk about, there are meal time conversation starters available for purchase, such as Tabletopics, so they can build up from that. 

It is important to set a minimum of days per week to get started, so families can be able to feel the benefits of sharing a meal with intention. Discipline is important and it has to start with the parents. Once you set a goal for your family, stick to it, and the earlier you start the better. Each family member can have a role, from preparing the food to setting the table and cleaning up, small moments and conversations will build connections with food and family that will bring invaluable results to your relationships and health.

Children and adolescents who eat as a family are more likely to eat more nutrient dense foods and drink less sugary beverages (Kathryn Walton, Nicholas J. Horton, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman et al, 2018). They also are less likely to have eating disorders (Amber J Hammons, Barbara H Fiese, 2011). They are able to pay attention to what and how much they are eating, not being distracted by screens, being mindful, and chewing their food. 

This is a process, slowing down in a fasted paced society is not easy, but our bodies need to be in a relaxed state during meal times so they can actually “do the work” and digest the food properly. Once again, intention is key. I have reaped the benefits of having family meals and it’s been wonderful to enjoy conversations with my children and husband, being able to name and recognize our food, learning there is a reason for every choice, every combination, and how it is a privilege to sit and eat together, to be present and enjoy the moment.


Amber J Hammons, Barbara H Fiese. 2011. Is frequency of shared family meals related to the nutritional health of children and adolescents? Retrieved from

Kathryn Walton, Nicholas J. Horton, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman et al. 2018. Exploring the Role of Family Functioning in the Association Between Frequency of Family Dinners and Dietary Intake Among Adolescents and Young Adults. Retrieved from

Harrison, Norris, Obeid, Fu, Weistangel & Sampson. 2015. Systematic review of the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in youth. Retrieved from