Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The benefits of quality time with the family

In our previous blog, we discussed ways to improve the balance of our working lives, but let's now examine the impact too much work can have on family life. Although a crude measure, one of the most revealing signs that work and the demands of our hectic lives are stealing time away from home, is a decrease in the family tradition of sitting down for dinner together.

In the US, the Journal of American Medicine has documented only 43% of families sit down and eat together every day. Although this may not seem significant, it has been shown that regular family meals provide children with better nutrition and also boost communication skills, performance at school and encourage better overall health and well-being.

What’s more, the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has established teenagers who have frequent family dinners (5-7 times a week) compared to those who don’t, are at less risk of substance abuse. Children who have family dinners less than 3 times a week are 4 times more likely to smoke tobacco, try drugs and are twice as likely to drink alcohol. This study, as well as others, demonstrates the effect that family meals have on protecting children from the lure and stresses of everyday life.

Given these findings and the growing epidemic of eating disorders in the younger population, researchers at Harvard Medical School explored other benefits of family meals such as the prevention of eating disorders. Their research revealed young girls (aged 9 -14) who ate dinner with their family most days were less likely to binge eat, purge their food or frequently diet the year after.

If you or anyone you know has an eating disorder or needs help with work-life balance issues tplease contact your local First Psychology centre (below) to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
Aberdeen: www.aberdeenpsychology.co.uk
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk

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