Studies show that kids who eat four or more meals with their families per week have much healthier diets and fewer eating disorders such as bingeing. The influence is long lasting: Young adults who had more family meals as adolescents consume more fruits and veggies, according to a report from the University of Minnesota.
And family meals have all kinds of wonderful side effects. Other studies show better grades, fewer psychological problems, higher self-esteem, lower rates of depression, and less substance abuse in kids who eat with their families. Family cohesion benefits too. According to Barbara Fiese, a psychologist who studies family routines and health at Syracuse University, "It's a time when family members tell jokes, family stories are created, and kids learn about family history. That's really how a family identity is created."