Family meal by Pixabay

Nowadays we live in a society where we are constantly on the go. It often seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to dine with the people we appreciate the most. As professionals who work eight to nine hours a day it is a challenge to find time to sit down and have real conversations with family or friends.

Eating together is not just for families; it can be part of everyone’s routine.  For some this time may be breakfast, as for others it might be dinner. The main goal is to start prioritizing a meal together daily to reconnect and socialize. Humans are social creatures, so connecting and communicating with others keeps us mentally stable. Finding one time daily to dine, talk and relax with your family, partner or best friend will really make a difference in your mental health.

Here are 7 reasons why it is important to prioritize family or friends to share meals:

  1. Implementing family meals is essential for the development of children. To engage with your family, try scheduling weekly family activities like cooking dinner together, game nights and picnics in the park.
  2. For young babies, research has shown that infants present at family dinners benefit from a boost in their vocabulary, even more than reading aloud. Children with a larger vocabulary tend to start reading and earlier and with less difficulty. Reward those who introduce new words and phrases.
  3. Research shows that children who have consistent quality time with their families tend to perform better academically and engage in less bad behavior at school. Providing good quality time with your children – even teaching dinner table manners – may ensure better future habits for them.
  4. It has also been shown that more family meals and quality time reduces the risk of teenagers developing substance abuse, eating disorders, and even depression. Ask your teens about their classes and friends.
  5. As for those without children just yet – remember sitting down to dine with family, a romantic partner, or friends is essential for a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Schedule time today.
  6. Avoid fast food which tends to be unhealthy according to experts. It negatively impacts physical and mental health.
  7. In our fast paced world, people sometimes feel pressure to eat while they work, watch a movie or use the computer. This multitasking has been shown to have negative effects in your health.

So schedule time daily to enjoy a meal with companionship. Setting aside time to eat with your loved ones is an important long-term habit. Don’t take quality time for granted, doing it more often will definitely improve your quality of life.  


Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.