Recent research has found that families are more likely to watch television together than to eat a meal together . Fewer than half (48%) of families eat an evening meal together every day, while 54% watch TV together on a daily basis . TV has now taken over from the kitchen table as the most likely place for families to gather.
In response to the latest research, Uncle Ben’s and leading dietitian Lucy Jones are advising families up and down the country to turn off the TV and reclaim family mealtimes. Lucy is shining a spotlight on the importance of encouraging parents to boost quality time with their children to create better relationships as a result of enjoying food together as a family.
Lucy comments: “Dinner time is so much more than fuel and nutrition, though of course, these fundamentals are important. It also represents however, a wonderful opportunity for conversation; making time for each other and sharing our days. Watching TV over dinner means that you lose these valuable aspects and as a result, families are not making mealtime a priority.
“The actual ‘mealtime’ starts in the kitchen with choosing, prepping and cooking a meal. Getting the family involved increases their confidence in the kitchen, learning valuable cooking skills, and provides the opportunity to chat, reflect, make plans and problem solve.
“In today’s world, many families are finding it harder to have meaningful mealtimes together because of differing schedules and long working hours. While it’s no surprise that mealtimes are an ideal opportunity to sit down and spend quality time together, what people overlook is that, eating together as a family can in fact help to teach children important social skills.
“Those who eat with their parents are also less likely to be truant from school and are less likely to be obese. It allows children time to open up; share their experiences and feelings with no pressure and no distractions – a rare moment in our otherwise busy days.
“Children included in communal meals are also believed to perform better in schools and have superior fitness. Children learn by seeing and copying so sharing mealtimes provides the perfect opportunity for parents and older siblings to ‘model’ healthy habits and balanced plates. Eating together is one of the best ways to reduce faddy or fussy eating tendencies.
“Family mealtimes don’t need to be just the parent in the kitchen, and children waiting for dinner. Getting everyone involved in preparing the food and making ‘shareable and interactive’ dishes such as Buddha Bowls with Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice, which can help create fun and meaningful mealtimes.
“All of these considerations ladder up to provide a great dinner moment and not focus mealtimes around the TV. Once families have confidence in the importance of this time, we hope that they will refrain from reaching for the remote and switch on to the interests of those closest to them.”
 Data from Opinium Research, UK, June 2018