The demands of a career in a competitive world constantly affect our lives at home. An executive who has an important meeting scheduled, cannot sit at his table for a leisurely breakfast. Nor can children today take their own time to eat, for their school lives have become more demanding. With so many of our activities being scheduled constantly, we should make an effort to fix an hour of the day, as family mealtime.
Importance of Eating Together:
You may wonder why so much importance should be given to such activities, but a family routine is more than just an activity done together; it is a time when parents and kids connect to each other and show that they care for each other.
According to the study published in the March 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, children and teens who ate dinner with their families had acquired a taste for healthy and wholesome foods while those children who ate alone most of the time preferred junk food.
Tips to Make Family Mealtime Enjoyable:
1. Plan Mealtimes:
For those who do not have time on weekdays, weekends and holidays can provide opportunities to bring the family together for long brunch over which the family members can talk and relax.
2. Make Family Meal Your Priority:
A family meal should be on the ‘must do’ list. The sharing, listening, caring and unwinding would follow automatically, making them unforgettable moments in the life of a child.
3. Keep it Simple:
Simple balanced meals can provide the satisfaction of eating homely food. Once in a while, a healthy take-out or a visit to the pizzeria would give the tired family chef a break.
4. Involve Children:
Give the children something to do, such as shopping for grocery, helping with the cooking or serving of food. This makes them feel they have done something for the family.
5. Have Early Dinner:
Having early dinners would mean that the positive energy generated during the meal could carry over to another activity such as taking a walk together after dinner. But it should not too early, before 8, as children need to loosen up a bit after their school day. Let the child relax and take a deep breath after coming back home from a busy day at school.
6. Establish Ground Rules:
While you prepare the mind of the child not to waste food and to at least taste everything that is served, you may, on your part, give them a variety of foods to choose from, and serve only reasonable portions of food.
7. Set the Mood:
Change the utensils and arrange them attractively in dim light. With good background music, mealtime could be equated to a fun time at a restaurant.
8. Create an Enjoyable Environment:
Criticizing children, and speaking on topics that can develop into quarrels, should not be done during dinner time. Sharing jokes, stories about our day, and talking about interesting television programs, educational or otherwise, could make it an enjoyable experience.
9. Change the Menu:
Bring in variety in the menu often so that children do not feel bored with eating the same thing again and again.
10. Be Casual About Desserts:
Make desserts part of the total meal plan when they are served. Using desserts as rewards or placing special attention on them makes desserts more desirable than other foods.
11. Make the Food Interesting and Nutritious:
Meals can be made pleasant by not only having a variety in them but by also including the right kind of food that has all the nutritious values that are healthy for the family. Make the food look colorful, fresh, and decorate or garnish with nice salads and other ingredients such that the look of it makes you, especially children, want to eat it all.
Meal Times For Overall Development:
When the whole family eats together, it’s not just the child’s eating habit that is supervised. Parents get a chance to observe how he has developed in other ways. Again, it’s a chance for the child to observe his father and mother and older siblings and learn how to interact and how to conduct himself.
So, it’s not just the health, but the personality of the child that can be developed during meal times. Moral values are not taught directly but they are established firmly through fun-filled arguments and discussions. Dinner time can thus become the most comfortable time of the day, which develops the feeling of belonging to a loving family.
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