Family Friendly Dinner
5 Evidence-Based Tips to Make Mealtime Easier

 

Eating as a family is hard! So many stars need to align to get everyone in the same place, at the same time, with no (or little) crying / yelling and with food. We round up 5 tips to make a family friendly dinner happen. Oh, and they are all backed by science!

Make food healthy, but not healthy

Wink, wink! First tip to make family friendly mealtime easier. Don’t call food healthy, or any word. Keep your words neutral. We as humans, even tiny ones, seem to be hard wired to not want things that are healthy! 

Even if you have made the perfect healthy meal, try describing it as delicious! You might get better results at the table. Also, don’t be afraid to serve dessert right along the meal. By not treating it as a reward kids learn to regulate how they eat sweets.

Be a role model

This tip to make mealtime easier looks to you, parent! Your kids are watching you, so try to set an example for them in your eating habits. Modeling is an important factor determining what a child will eat.  If you are scared to eat a vegetable, your child probably is too. So suck it up.

Sit together when someone is eating

Family meals have many benefits! We get that people have different schedules, but you can cheat the system. Even if one person can’t make dinner, sit down with them when they do sit down to eat.

Trick yourself to remember reading labels

It’s good to have an inclusive family friendly meal! If your child has food allergies this is an important habit! Some easy tips to remember to do this are to use sticky notes to remind yourself and place colored dots on the label when a food is ‘cleared’. Remember it takes 66 days to form a new habit, so be patient!

Have a family friendly plan

This one is pretty hard. But once you get it down it can become routine. Meal planning can save you money and reduce the amount of food you have to throw away. But it is actually proven to help your family eat better. If you have a picky eater, meal plans can help you out by removing some of the stress you feel at meal times. A less stressed you = a less stressed kiddo.

If you don’t know where to start, start small. One way is to give each night of the week a theme like Lentil Monday, Taco Tuesday, Rotisserie-Chicken Wednesday, Takeout Thursday and Pasta Friday. Meal delivery services such as Blue Apron or Veestro can also be great if you can afford it. Some of these food boxes are now available at grocery stores.

Let it go

Every meal doesn’t have to be perfect. Allowing your kids access to foods such as pizza will help them in the long run, especially if you can all eat it together! The more stressed you are at the table, the harder it is for your kids to relax and just eat. This is easier said than done but at the end of the day mealtime should be a happy time!

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