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Let’s face it.

We all lead busy lives.

And sometimes that means we are unable to enjoy some of the simple pleasures in life.

Like eating meals together.

The facts point to what we all intuitively know is true—we do not eat together as often anymore.

The average American eats 1 in 5 meals in their car, 1 in 4 people eat one fast food meal every day, and the vast majority of American families say they eat a meal together less than 5 days a week!

When we fail to take time to eat together, we miss out on a whole array of social, physical and emotional benefits.

Eating together improves communication, cultivates enriching traditions, and encourages better eating habits.

As the 17th-century French writer, François de La Rochefoucauld said: “To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”

Without a doubt, part of intelligent eating is enjoying healthful food together with loved ones.

This is why today we are excited to celebrate National Eat Better, Eat Together Month.

Why Is Eating Together Important?

Study after study underlines the importance of the shared family meal.

According to a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, children who eat dinner with their parents 5+ days a week tend to eat healthier foods, enjoy better academic performance, experience less drug/alcohol issues, and report being closer to their parents.

Conversely, data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that students who fail to eat regular meals with their parents are more likely to be truant from school.

How to Celebrate Eat Better, Eat Together Month

Here are some ways to observe this special month.

  1. First, why stop at eating together? Go one step farther and actually make a meal together! Get everyone involved shopping, preparing (cutting, chopping, mixing) and setting the table.
  2. You can also organize a ‘no excuses’ night where—no matter what—everyone in the household will attend and make eating together a priority (with all mobile phones left in another room!).
  3. Finally, remember that eating together includes any meal. Lunch can be difficult with work and school, but you can always organize a family breakfast. Everyone can help prepare the food and share their plans for the day ahead—a perfect way to get the day started on the right foot!

Since Eat Better, Eat Together Month is about eating together AND about eating healthful, nutritious meals, here is a beautiful recipe for Margherita Risotto that the whole family will love.

Eat Better, Eat Together Month is such a great idea that maybe we should start celebrating it all year long instead of just one month!

Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

President & CEO, Plant-Based Life Foundation | Dr. Rosane Oliveira combines a lifelong passion for nutrition with 25 years of genetics research to create programs that help people develop healthy habits on their journey towards a more plant-based lifestyle. She is a Visiting Clinical Professor in Public Health Sciences and was the founding director of the first Integrative Medicine program at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her postgraduate studies in Brazil and did her postdoctoral training in immunogenetics and functional genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.