Despite the constant innovations in modern kitchen appliances making it quicker and easier to cook, the modern family now spends less and less time eating in. In fact, whilst in in 1900, 2% of meals were eaten outside the home, in 2010 that figure had risen to 50%.
In part, this can be put down to the fact that in an increasing number of families, all parents are working full time. That, coupled with the sheer number of convenient alternatives to the home-cooked meal on the market these days mean that family meals occur about three times a week on average, commonly last for less than 20 minutes and are generally spent in front of the television.
So, is this the end for the humble domestic meal, or is it worth hanging on to this age-old tradition?
A home-cooked meal is, in general, healthier than the convenient alternatives that adorn the shelves at the local supermarket.
Obesity in the UK is becoming an increasing problem for the UK, with diet-related diseases now two of the top five causes of premature death for people under 60 years old.
Even high-quality processed meals have been found to contain high levels of salt and sometimes harmful additives.
And whilst home-cooked food contains less nutritional nasties, families will usually find that cooking from scratch using natural ingredients is also cheaper than buying good-quality convenience foods.
For children in America, eating a family meal has been found to help them achieve better grades at school, as well as steer clear of substance abuse into their teenage years. In fact, in the US, teens who ate fewer family dinners (3 or less per week) were:
- Over three times more likely to abuse prescription drugs
- Over three times more likely to use illegal drugs other than marijuana or prescription drugs
- Three times more likely to use marijuana
- More than twice as likely to use tobacco
- Over twice as likely to use alcohol
The more family meals children enjoy per week, the happier they are. Studies have shown that the general health and wellbeing of children who regularly eat family meals is greater than those who don’t, and that doing so provides parents with an opportunity to teach their children appropriate and effective communication skills, manners, nutrition, and good eating habits for later in life.
What with swimming lessons, sports clubs, Brownies and Cubs, it’s not always convenient to take the time out to eat as a family every night. However, it is a good idea to take time at least once or twice a week to enjoy each other’s company as a family. Sitting around the dining table to eat wholesome, healthy meals with your children is a positive for everyone.
This article was written by Laura Moulden on behalf of AHF, the carpets and furniture specialists.