Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Making Mealtime a Family Time
Caption for illustration: Cook together. Eat together. Talk together. Make mealtime a family time.
Family meals allow your preschooler to focus on the task of eating and give you a chance to model good behaviors.
It takes a little work to bring everyone together for meals. But it's worth it and the whole family eats better.
- Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young. This way, it becomes a habit.
- Plan when you will eat together as a family. Write it on your calendar.
- You may not be able to eat together every day. Try to have family meals most days of the week.
Make family meals enjoyable
- Focus on the meal and each other. Turn off the television. Take phone calls or texts later.
- Talk about fun and happy things. Try to make meals a stress-free time.
- Encourage your child to try foods. But, don't lecture or force your child to eat.
- Involve your child in conversation. Ask questions like:
- What made you feel really happy today?
- What did you have to eat at lunch today?
- What's your favorite veggie? Why?
- Tell me one thing you learned today.
- What made you laugh today?
- Have your child help you get ready to eat. Depending on age, your child may be able to:
- Help set the table
- Put pets, toys, or books in another room
- Turn off the TV
- Pour milk (with help)
- Put down place mats
- Hand out napkins and silverware
- Pick flowers for the table
- Clear the table
- Wipe the table
Ideas for fast family meals
- Cook it fast on busy nights. Try stir-fried meat and vegetables, quick soups, sandwiches, or quesadillas.
- Do some tasks the day before. Wash and cut vegetables or make a fruit salad. Cook lean ground beef or turkey for burritos or chili. Store everything in the fridge until ready to use.
- Find quick and tasty recipes that don't cost a lot to make.
More on Healthy Eating Habits: