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Family dinners is proven to be a transformational method for preventing the development of eating disorders in adolescents. The act of family meal planning not only encourages bonding time, but also inspires healthier diets. Families who eat a minimum of one meal together per day eat more fruits and vegetables. Other research has shown that families and individuals who eat at home, consuming food they cooked themselves, tend to eat healthier. They also consume less calories a day, helping them maintain a more well-balanced diet.

Experiential learning is an impactful way to change thought patterns, decision making, and awareness in the family environment. Including the family in meal choice, grocery shopping, meal prep and serving creates a fun activity from the beginning to end of a meal. It also helps young members of the family see the amount of work it takes to prepare a meal, helping them develop gratitude. Preparing one’s own food is a spiritual experience that the whole family can enjoy together.

Tying Family Meals to Recovery

If the family can benefit from shared meal time, it is probable they can benefit in learning how to support a loved one’s recovery. As adolescents turn into young adults, many parents practice a “try it at home first” philosophy when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Creating an open environment of experimentation and collaboration can be applied to recovery as well. Having the family come together to choose non alcoholic beverages will help a recovering loved one not to feel excluded.

As an equivalent to meal planning the family can plan activities together which will support their loved one in recovery. Addiction is a family disease, as it is often said, and it takes the whole family to recover. Many see recovery as a spiritual program, which can be supplemented through various activities throughout the day. Together, families can:

  • Read a daily affirmation or chapter of an inspirational book

  • Pick a spiritual theme for the day and talk about their experiences over family dinner

  • Send each other inspirational quotes or videos during the day

  • Practice meditation and quiet time

  • Attend different levels of recovery meetings, like Al-Anon and Ala-Teen

  • Experiment with different religious or spiritual inquiries and attend services

  • Talk openly about emotions and spiritual experiences throughout the day

  • Begin and end the day in family prayer