Is this the Death of Dinner Time?

January 19, 2017
by Meryl Singleton Lunch & Dinner

    Do you feel like your family mealtimes are in danger of dying out? Well, you’re not the only one. At HelloFresh, we recently carried out a study that found over half of British parents admit they don’t eat with their children. It’s the shocking truth that shows how little value we put into spending time together as a family over dinner.

    Our research into British mealtime habits has revealed busy lives, coupled with children’s fussy eating habits has led to a “kid’s tea” culture, usually consisting of unhealthy convenience foods.

    Check out this infographic of our findings and let us know if you and your family are guilty of the same problems:


    Scary stuff, huh?

    According to the study – 73 per cent of those surveyed believe that sitting together at the dinner table is a thing of the past.  Our report suggests that children and their parents are no longer sitting down to eat together with 53 percent of the nation feeding their children first with the average kid’s dinner taking place at 5.54pm – with parents then sitting down when the children are fed, out of the way or are in bed, at 6.54pm. Does this sound like you and your family? Let us know in the comments.

    Five in ten (53 percent) of the parents polled admitted it was easier to feed the children first, with 17 percent saying their children simply won’t eat “adult” meals, while a further 14 percent admitted their children’s table manners are so bad it is simply too stressful.

    What’s more, over half (58 percent) of those polled said that their children’s fussy eating causes arguments in the house, with a further 53 percent claiming they end up feeding their children convenience foods for an easier life.

    A further 36 percent of mums and dads complained that coming up with recipes the whole family will like puts them off family mealtimes – with a staggering 73 percent insisting that they no longer sit together around the table at mealtimes. Shocking when you think about how little time families are usually able to spend together.

    Worryingly, more than one in ten (15 percent) said their children will not stay seated at the table – with 32 percent of children being allowed to eat dinner in front of the TV, 28 percent eat in front of their laptops/tablets and a further 4 percent of youngsters eat dinner in their bedrooms.

    This news makes us really sad. The fact that 73% of the population thinks family dinner time is a thing of the past is actually quite worrying.  At HelloFresh we live and breathe dinner time and we understand the physical and emotional benefits of sitting around a table, discussing the day; food can bring people, friends and families together.  We know that life can get in the way sometimes, so this is why we are launching the #DinnerTimeChallenge – to try and get people to commit to eating together as much as they can for 30 days and see the benefits.

    But what do the professionals think?

    Psychologist Dr Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey who was involved in the research explains that mealtimes help you to feel more connected to yourself and others, commenting: “Eating at a table gives you time out of a busy day, it can be a time of self-caring and a way to look after yourself to boost mood and happiness.”

    “Food can bring the family together. Dinnertime is a chance for everyone to talk about their day, for parents it also gives them time to listen to any problems or achievements the child may have had.”

    And it’s not just families…

    According to the report British couples are also guilty of not sitting together at mealtimes. Almost four in ten (38 percent) of British couples say they don’t always eat together, claiming busy lives and hectic schedules get in the way, with 52 percent blaming long working hours for their lack of one to one time at dinner.

    A further 27 percent of adults said they prefer to eat their evening meal watching TV in a different room from their partner as they can’t agree on what to watch, while 20 percent say they both like different foods so make their own dinners.

    And according to the data, 44 percent of adults eat dinner on the sofa watching the TV while a further 25 percent eat their evening meal while looking at their laptop or tablet.

    However when asked what the benefits of sitting down together as a couple or as a family were, 51 percent of couples said that sitting together did help them communicate better and talk through issues, 44 percent thought it was a great way for the family to spend quality time together, while a further 34 percent of parents said it would make things easier rather than having to cook separate meals for the children and themselves.

    The HelloFresh #DinnerTimeChallenge

    HelloFresh is encouraging the nation to take part in the #DinnerTimeChallenge and commit to spending 30 days eating dinner with their family or household as much as they can. We want the nation to get on board and see first-hand how the simple change to daily routines of having dinner together can have huge physical and emotional benefits. More information can be found here.





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