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  • Writer's pictureElissa Strassman

8 Family Meal Tips

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Learn the benefits to enjoying meals as a family, and find 8 tips to help in making family meals, and family eating, a positive experience.

 

What is one thing families can do to support healthy eating and overall well-being in kids and grown ups alike?


If you guessed eating together, or eating family meals, guess what? You’d be right.


What is a family meal?


A family meal is simply, people sitting together, sharing a meal, and engaging in conversation.

What are the benefits of eating family meals?


Eating family meals has shown to help people: develop healthy eating behaviors, encourage the trying of new foods, make healthy food choices, develop positive relationships with food, and also helps to support in building positive family relationships too.


For kids, family meals can help enhance:

  • Motor Skills

  • Social Skills

  • Self Esteem

  • Table Manners

  • Independence

It is also linked to better grades in school, and lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders, depression and suicide.


So now you know the benefits to eating family meals, here are 8 tips to help in making family meals, and family eating, a positive experience.


8 Family Meal Tips:


1) Have a plan:

  • Having a general idea of when family meals will take place and a general idea of what will be offered can ensure everyone is on the same page and help to reduce stress.

    • Have a back up plan in mind, just in case our first plan just isn't on the horizon that day: think of something easy and that can come together quick.

    • Knowing around what time you will eat, can help with planning snacks.


2) Offer a variety of foods from most of the 5 food groups:

  • The five food groups include: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.


3) From meal prep to clean up- involve everyone in the process.


4) Turn off all the distractions.

  • This is your time to connect. It also allows for us to be more mindful and attuned to our hunger fullness signals.


5) Let everyone pick and choose the foods they would like themselves.

  • Parents are responsible for the what and when, and kids are responsible for the what and how much.

  • Pair a new food with a familiar food, when introducing something new, or liked foods with unliked foods, to ensure that there is something each person will likely eat at the table.


6) Be mindful of how you are around food.

  • Kids learn by observation, so in order to promote healthy eating, a positive relationship with food, and the use of table manners, we must show how to eat nutritiously, demonstrate how to have a healthy relationship with food, and practice table manners too.

    • Try not to label foods as good or bad, keep negative comments about foods to ourselves, be enthusiastic about trying new foods, and show how all foods can fit, including sweets and desserts, into a healthy eating style too.


7) Keep the experience positive.

  • Keep communication neutral or positive.

  • Ask open ended questions, and allow each person the opportunity to contribute and share.

  • Connect on current events-whether it be things going on individually, community and beyond.

  • Story tell: have fun sharing memories of times past, make plans or talk about hopes/dreams for the future.

  • If making a family favorite or traditional meal:

    • Share food memories, or talk about family traditions or recipes with those who are important to you. Be sure to share stories about specific people who are linked to those foods, recipes, or experiences too.

    • Explain the importance and meaning to the special dishes or cookware that you use.

8) Practice self-compassion. Know that you are doing the best you can.

  • We can all have the best laid plans, however, sometimes stuff happens-plans may fall through, kids may not eat, someone’s in a bad mood, etc.

  • Give yourself some grace, and know you are doing the best you can do.

  • If you need some additional help, always know, I am here to support you.



What tips or tricks do you have for making positive family meals happen? As always I invite you to share, comment and leave a reply!


Celebrate family meals and family eating.
My mom and her family, sitting around the kitchen table, enjoying a family meal together(she is on the right, and sitting in her father's lap). She always shares how much fun they all had enjoying time together(although for some reason, many people didn't smile for pictures back then)!


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