healthy family mealsThere are many reasons to favor “how it used to be” when it comes to healthy living. We live a hurried lifestyle, with little time to do anything other than eat (quickly), sleep and work. While getting less exercise than we did decades ago may be the first thing that comes to mind, a sedentary family tradition is the subject of a new study.

According to new research out of the UK, the “old-fashioned” family dinner, with everyone gathered together for a sit down meal, boosts children’s intake of fruits and vegetables.

The researchers examined the diets of over 2,000 primary school children, attending 52 London schools. Parents filled out a questionnaire and food diary that included the children’s age, food portion sizes, frequency of eating meals together, and the parents’ own levels of fruit and vegetable consumption.

Of the 1,516 children whose parents completed the food diaries, those who sometimes ate family meals together consumed 95 grams more fruit and vegetables every day than those who never ate together. However, the children who always ate family meals together ate an average of 125 grams more each day.

There were other factors to consider as well, each related to positive parenting skills. Parents who set a good example by eating fruit and vegetables every day had children eating 88 grams more than their counterparts with parents who rarely or never did so. Also, if parents cut their child’s fruits and vegetables, they ate 44 grams more than those with parents who did not.

So, next time you feel like eating your next meal on the couch, think about gathering the family at the dinner table. Just make sure you have fruits and vegetables on everyone’s plate, otherwise you may be getting closer to your family, but not closer to healthier eating habits.