Even when you do get the whole family to sit down to dinner, you may still feel scatterbrained and out of control. If there are too many things going on that distract from the meal, children will often under eat and adults easily over eat. Getting rid of distractions will vastly improve mealtime environment.
NEVER GET TOO BUSY FOR A FAMILY MEAL. Plan ahead, think creatively, and make adjustments to fit your family's schedule. For example, you may want to change the time of day you eat together or have a picnic on a blanket before or after a ball game, not during.
TURN OFF THE TELEVISION. If your family usually watches TV during dinner, decrease the habit slowly. Begin with one or two TV-free meals a week and gradually increase the number.
SIMPLIFY. Elaborate meals are not necessary for quality family time. Serve the same favorite food on a certain day of the week or month. To save time and effort, plan for and use leftovers.
SERVE FAMILY MEMBERS THE SAME FOOD AT THE SAME TIME. Provide a variety of food choices and refrain from forcing children to eat certain foods. If your children are not hungry at mealtime, cut back on snacks between meals.
DISCUSS AGREEABLE OR NEUTRAL TOPICS. Focus on the positive by asking questions such as, "Tell something good that happened today." Listen attentively and make sure the speaker feels respected. Mealtime is not the place for criticism or rude behaviors.
LET CHILDREN HELP PLAN AND PREPARE MEALS. Listen to their meal suggestions and try to make eating together fun. Invite them to help create memorable holiday foods and decorations.
CREATE A PLEASING ATMOSPHERE. For a special treat, have a family dinner in a quiet restaurant. Limit visits to fast-food establishments.
TEACH BY SHOWING, NOT BY TELLING. When you make pleasant family mealtimes a priority, your child or children will more likely be healthy, well-mannered, and well-adjusted.
* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *