By Mary Ellen Burris, Senior Vice President of Consumer Affairs of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
One of the five principles of Wegman's "Eat Well, Live Well" approach is to SHARE THE PREP AND PLEASURE OF GREAT MEALS. In deciding to include that as one of our significant steps toward healthy life, we found some interesting research showing clear links between frequency of meals eaten together and emotional health, healthy eating, and cost of meals. We discussed these principles at a store managers’ meeting, and it was suggested that I share the research on ‘sharing the prep and pleasure.’
Teens who ate dinner 5-7 times a week with their families were 21% less likely to try tobacco or alcohol and 17% less likely to try marijuana (this research comes from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University). The Journal of Adolescent Health examined family meal patterns and eating behaviors, and found a relationship to eating disorders. Those who regularly ate meals in a structured, positive atmosphere were less likely to show signs of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia etc.).
Another issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health reports that adolescents who ate with their families 4-5 times a week were more likely to eat more vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy products. The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior says that parents eat better, too, under similar situations. The pocketbook is affected too…seems it’s less expensive to provide a family meal rather than a number of ‘solo’ meals, especially if ordered out or eaten out.
What goes on in the family when meals are shared is about more than food. It’s really about communication. It may be the only time families find out what’s going on in each other’s lives. Without it, one researcher observed, home is just a place you stay.
Now, nobody’s saying that this is easy. Families going in all different directions to many different activities find this so hard, we know. Small steps are the way to start…like just having one more meal together in the week. Letting kids help plan the week and the meals is part of the sharing, too, when age-appropriate. We pledge to do all we can to help make meals easier for you.
About the Author
Wegman's Senior Vice President of Consumer Affairs, Mary Ellen Burris, writes articles on subjects relating to food, health, reader questions and concerns, and other important topics for Wegman's.
SearchMothers.com named Wegmans to its list of "Top Companies for a Mom To Work For in 2005".
Working Mother Magazine named Wegmans to the list of the Best Companies for Working Mothers to work for nationwide, for six consecutive years in the 1990s.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Wegmans has been named one of the 'Top 100 Companies to Work For' by Fortune Magazine for the last several years.