I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat Better, Eat Together Balancing Act blog carnival hosted by the Dairy Council of California to share ways families everywhere can make time for family meals that include foods from all the food groups. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the Balancing Act blog carnival will be listed at the bottom of this post.
Back in May I participated in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival and I wrote about the importance of introducing children to new foods and involving them in the kitchen. While I have always been an advocate of teaching children proper nutrition, in the time since I wrote that post the idea of raising healthy eaters has become more of a reality for me as I am getting ready to have my own children (in case you missed my announcement the other day, I am expecting twin girls in January!). I want nothing more than for my daughters to be healthy, adventurous eaters and to enjoy food as much as I do. One way I hope to accomplish this is by making sure family meals are a regular occurrence in my household.
For many families it’s not so easy to manage meals together — kids are often hungrier earlier than parents want to eat, parents who work full time aren’t necessarily home in time for dinner with their kids, and siblings may have different schedules that interfere with everyone sitting down at the same time for a meal. While these are some obstacles to family meals, there are ways to work around them. Here are some of my tips for making sure your family gets to eat together (I hope I can follow them when the time comes!):
- Pick a meal that everyone can be together for at least once a week. No one said the family meal has to be dinner. Maybe it’s breakfast one morning a week or lunch on the weekend.
- Even if your spouse can’t be home for meals you can still sit down and eat with your kids. Kids eating too early for you? Eat some part of their meal with them for the sake of role modeling and have the rest of your meal later.
- Limit school activities that interfere with dinner and coordinate schedules.
- Don’t have time to cook? No one said the family meal has to be homemade. Order in or get prepared food from a gourmet grocery. Remember to get foods that will lead to a balanced plate. You can also cook on the weekends and freeze leftovers for during the week. (Find some healthy recipes your kids can help you make in my new kid’s cookbook “We Can Cook.”)
- Don’t fall into the trap of being a short order cook. There are some family meal basics to remember: Everyone eats the same food, at the same time, and at a set table. Turn off the TV, talk about your day, and enjoy each other’s company.
Ready to commit to having more family meals in your household? Take the Meals Matter Eat better, Eat Together Pledge to increase the number of family meals you have.
Does your family eat meals together?
Don’t stop here! Other bloggers share their stories and tips on how they juggle the balancing act of getting a well-balanced meal on the table!
10 Commandments for Guilt-Free Feeding – Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
Beating the Lunch Box Blues – Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD
Dinner Time – Michelle Rowe, RN and Health Educator
Eat Better, Eat Together– Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Family Dinners Fuel Healthier Kids – Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN
Families that Cook Together Eat Together – Kia Robertson
Making Time for Family Meals: How I’ve Earned My “RDH” – Trina Robertson, MS, RD
Meal Planning: Taking the Stress Out of the ‘What’s for Dinner’– Laura Everage
Pressed for Time? Moms Know Best: Tips for Getting Food on the Table – FAST! – Samantha Lewandowski, MS, RD, LDN
Roasted Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal – Cheri Liefeld
Sunday Night Family Dinner, In the Dining Room – Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN
The Balancing Act – Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD The Power of Family Meal Time & How to Squeeze It In! – Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
The Truth About Family Dinner – Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
Toughen up: Give Two Choices for Dinner – Take it or Leave it!– Glenda Gourley
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own.