The more I research dietary habits and the link to chronic disease and obesity, the more I realize that it’s not only the type of food you're putting in your mouth that matters, but also the environment in which you're eating it in.
A recent study from the The Journal of Pediatrics found that children and adolescents who shared meals with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy food, or be at risk for eating disorders.
When I was growing up, it did not matter what was going on in our evenings; at 6:30 p.m., we all sat down and enjoyed dinner as a family. No one ate in front of the computer screen or TV; no one ate alone; and surely, the only distraction we had was the discussion at the table about our days. I suppose life is more hectic now, and there are many more options (usually processed) available for the typical American family when it comes to dinner. But does this lack of time and increase in convenience really produce happier and healthier individuals?
The Pediatrics study would suggest no. There is actually an abundance of research which indicates that eating dinner as a family, decreasing distractions while eating, and even chewing well can all help with portion control and eating healthier. I encourage all the Dr. Oz viewers to start tonight; turn off the TV, the computer, and the smart phone just for an hour, and enjoy the company of being with your family. Use the ideas and tips that Dr. Oz provides to you every day (healthy recipes, prep techniques, etc.) and, take it one step further by preparing your healthy foods as a family as well.
Take pride in the example you are setting for your family by instilling lifelong healthy habits. Most of all, know that by doing something as simple as sitting down to eat together, you are essentially extending the lives of those you love the most!