Family Meals Boost Mental Health for All Ages

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(NewsUSA) - Sharing a meal -- with family members that include relatives but also those you choose to call family -- not only promotes healthy eating, but healthier minds as well, new data show.

More than half of Americans believe that family meals make them feel more connected, according to the FMI Foundation, a nonprofit organization and creator and steward of the Family Meals Movement.

In a recent survey from the FMI Foundation, one-third of Americans said family meals make them feel calm, and approximately four in 10 said family meals are relaxing and fun, and improved their quality of life.

“These new data underscore the hundreds of studies the FMI Foundation has curated to substantiate further the expansive physical and mental health benefits of family meals,” said David Fikes, executive director of the FMI Foundation. “Sharing meals is clearly one of our best proactive practices to build a healthier nation,” he said.

Anxiety and other mental health issues have surged among youth in recent years, and FMI Foundation data support the value of family meals for giving children, teens, and young adults a way to connect and boost their feelings of well-being. Multiple published studies demonstrate that family meals are associated with reduced symptoms of depression, fewer incidents of violent behavior, and reduced thoughts of suicide in youth, as well as a reduction in patterns of disordered eating. Additional studies support the link between increased family meals and more prosocial behavior and feelings of life satisfaction among adolescents.

Family meals are good for adults, too. Data from the FMI Foundation show higher levels of self-esteem and family function, as well as lower levels of stress and depression among adults who share more meals with family members.

“Family meals are a proven way to strengthen the emotional well-being of children and adults and bolster the bonds they share.” Fikes emphasized. “With youth depression and anxiety at an all-time high, there has never been a better time to take simple steps, like family meals, to build healthier hearts, minds, and bodies.”

Joining the Family Meals Movement is one way to take advantage of the many benefits family meals offer. If you’re looking for ways to have just one more family meal each week, visit your local supermarket for meal ideas, recipes, cooking and preparation suggestions and products that help make family meals easily achievable. Many grocery stores offer in-store retail dietitians who can offer customized nutrition and meal-planning tools to fit your budget and needs. And don’t forget to take part in National Family Meals Month™, celebrated in September as part of the Family Meals Movement.

Learn more about the Family Meals Movement at www.FamilyMealsMovement.org and Family Meals Month at https://www.fmi.org/family-meals

 






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