Dinner therapy: Key to a stress-free home may be regular family meals


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ould the secret to easing stress be as simple as having dinner as a family? Researchers with the American Heart Association have found that 91 percent of parents notice their families are less stressed when they share meals together.

In a poll of 1,000 American adults, conducted for the AHA’s Healthy for Good™ movement by Wakefield Research, 84 percent wish they could share a meal with loved ones more often. However, the average adult eats alone roughly half of the time.

Two in three (65%) say they’re at least somewhat stressed and 27 percent are very or extremely stressed. Researchers say chronic and continuous stress increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Sharing meals with others is a great way to reduces stress, boost self-esteem and improve social connection, particularly for kids,” says Erin Michos, M.D, M.H.S, an American Heart Association volunteer, associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins, and a co-author of the American Heart Association’s statement on Psychological Health, Well-being, and the Mind-Heart-Body Connection, in a media release.

“Chronic, constant stress can also increase your lifetime risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is important for people to find ways to reduce and manage stress as much as possible, as soon as possible.”

Family meals leads to eating healthier?

The survey also found that many people believe sharing a meal has additional health benefits. Two in three say dining with others reminds them of the importance of connecting with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. More than half (54%) say sharing a meal reminds them to slow down and take a break.


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