Live Better By Eating Together

According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, children who have family dinners three or more times per week are:

  • Less likely to be overweight
  • More likely to eat healthy food
  • Less likely to do drugsMore likely to excel academically
  • More likely to have healthy relationships with their parents

You would think that everyone would be working hard to have more family dinners, yet according to a number of studies the frequency of family dinners is shrinking in Canada. Today 1/4 to 1/3 never or seldom eat together as a family and 14% never eat a family meal! 

One study revealed 60 years ago the average dinnertime was 90 minutes, today it is less than 12 minutes, Only 36 percent said they eat at a table, and a mere 21 percent say they use meal times as an opportunity to chat to their family. 29 percent admitted to eating their meal while watching the television. One survey revealed that the average family sits down for their evening meal at 7:47 pm. This is two hours later than ten years ago, when families gathered around the dinner table as early as 5:30 pm. This survey found that the primary reason for the later meal is the increasingly busy lifestyles we live.

Not only are families eating less together, Stats Canada points out the number of meals that people are eating alone has increased dramatically in the last decade. There are varying reasons that are given for the disappearance of the family meal, but everyone agrees is it detrimental to our emotional and physical health.

God designed us to live in community and I believe it was His idea that enjoying a meal together was a big part of having a healthy community. God meant for mealtime to be an occasion for us to come together, to reflect on our day, to laugh, to cry, to encourage, to instruct, to listen and do live together.God meant for mealtime to be an occasion for us to come together.

In the Old Testament you will see God instituted a number of festivals that involved food and celebration. This was meant for the individual family and for the community. If you study the life of Jesus you find many occasions when He initiated or participated in meals. He was known for taking time to eat with His disciples and the outcasts of His day or multiply food for a hungry crowd.

Our Lord specifically asked us to remember Him with the “Lord’s Supper”. We call this meal communion, the name itself implying coming together and uniting. For Christians sharing food is very important because in sharing of food we actually shape our community and connect with each other.In the book of Acts 2:42, Luke writes about the local church; “They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.” Why does Luke mention the practice of sharing a meal? And why does he mention it before prayer? Why is it such a big deal that we share food together?

In the Middle Eastern culture that Luke describes here they didn’t just “do lunch.” When you ate with someone it showed your acceptance of that person, and your desire for a closer friendship. This was especially true if the meal took place in a private home. This was more than casual friendliness. When these early believers ate together, they didn’t just open their homes, but their families and their very lives to each other.

If you want to live better in 2016 I encourage you to slow down and eat more family meals together. Like the early church take the opportunity to share your meal time with some of the many isolated and lonely in our city. Take this time to share life, talk about what God is doing in your life and pray for one another.