Every Friday night, my family gets together and has dinner. It’s a time for us to get together and talk about the week. Since my two older step-brothers and I are at college, I have learned to love these dinners more and more every time I come home. Not only is family dinner a great way to get a free meal out of coming home from college, there are actual health benefits to spending time eating a quality meal with your family.

It’s good for your brain

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According to health.com, “Of teens who eat with their family fewer than three times a week, 20 percent get C’s or lower on their report cards.”

Need to bump up that grade point average while you’re away? FaceTime in for a few family dinners every week.

It decreases stress

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According to the same article, a 2008 study at Brigham Young University of IBM workers found that, “Sitting down to a family meal helped working moms reduce the tension and strain from long hours at the office.”

Who doesn’t need a little de-stressing? Even if it isn’t family dinner, a phone call to my mom always makes me calm down and not worry too much about my tough exam.

It’s good for you, body and soul

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The Family Dinner Project is a nonprofit organization running out of Harvard University that encourages, “A growing movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter.” Their website explains that family dinner helps kids and parents feel more connected and “nourish ethical thinking.”

This organization makes family dinner easy and accessible for every family. They have outlines of simple recipes and interesting conversation starters for the whole family to be involved. They explain what has been so obvious to my emotional growth – family time.

What family dinner really looks like

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Photo by Jessica Citronberg

I didn’t start to appreciate a family dinner as much as I do now until my mom got remarried. My step-dad observes Shabbat every Friday night, hence, Friday night dinner (brush up on your Judaism here).

In high school, I never went to one of these dinners. It wasn’t until my mom, my sister and I moved in with my step-dad that I actually sat down for one. It has religious context, but the point is that we all sit down together and talk about the past, present, and future.

Even this short amount of time brings us all together, and I absolutely love it. Friday night dinners are what I look forward to every time I come home. They are what I miss when I am away. With food and family in the mix, you can only have a good time.