Eating at home as a family should be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, my professional experience has found this not to be the case for most families. In reality, many parents dread the evening mealtime, finding it a time filled with stress, arguments and tension. So, don’t worry, you are not alone!
With this in mind, I have developed simple methods that promise to transform your family’s mealtime. These three simple steps together will help your family develop positive habits around food and eating at home.
Three simple ways you can encourage your family to eat together more.
Grow your own food
It can be as simple as starting a veggie patch at home, or even just planting some seeds in pots. Explore growing some fun foods such as onions, carrots, and celery by growing them from end cuts. I recommend planting veggies that your family might not usually eat, your children’s favourite veggies and ones that are a little unique or vibrantly coloured like purple carrots.
Come to the table ready to talk
Whether it’s the topic of the day or reporting on your highlights or low-points of the day so you can discuss them as a family. This is a great way to discover new interests, identify issues, solve smaller problems, and work out plans for the weekend. Celebrate wins, and identify early any upcoming challenges by establishing a regular habit of all sharing over a meal.
This also helps everyone be ready for eating out in restaurants, or when you are visiting other families. The additional bonus of this is that you all learn to have respectful and enjoyable conversations across generational boundaries.
Encourage help with the meal preparation
From writing the weekly shopping list and visiting the grocery store to actually cooking the meal, involve the whole family in the preparation process. This includes taking turns to prepare parts of or even the entire meal. Whoever is in charge should be encouraged to take ownership of what is being cooked when it is their turn. Alternatively, make mealtime a learning experience. From learning how to peel potatoes, to preparing a salad, right up to making an omelette and setting the table properly, children love to be involved, stimulated and learning.
And, of course, remember to set boundaries around mealtimes. Mealtimes should mean manners and a device-free environment.
Download the Just One Thing list
If you are taking part in the 2020 Family Health Challenge don’t forget to explore the Just One Thing List for extra ideas on how to eat, play and exercise together.