Dance rehearsals and other scheduling conflicts can make family mealtime a challenge. Suddenly, you’re feeding your kids breakfast bars or eat a 100-calorie pack at your desk. If you think that eating with your family becomes a luxury and not a necessity, you might want to consider these eight principles to make family meals happy and healthy.
One of the biggest issues that some families are no longer making meals at home is the lack of time. However, with planning, you can avoid dining out. Instead, you’ll get to spend family mealtime at home eating healthy food options.
1. Ask your family
If you want to make meals that your family will like, make sure that you ask them first what kind of meal they want you to prepare. Keep in mind that if they don’t eat what you prepare, you’ll just be wasting your food and time.
Try incorporating their favorite foods in your weekly plan. Once they know you’re going to make food that they like, they’re more inclined to eat at home.
Regardless of what their favorites are, don’t forget to include veggies and fruits in the preparation. Even if your kids don’t love veggies, they’ll start to like them when they eat them with their families. That’s because family meals let you discuss the benefits of eating healthful foods.
2. Choose to serve less meat
To make a family meal healthy, it must include grains, nuts, and seeds. Opt for veggies and fruits, instead of meat. Whole grains contain fiber that aids in digestion, allowing you to feel fuller.
Nuts and seeds contain a lot of nutrients that are difficult to come by. Legumes contain fiber, protein, folate and other nutrients. In that case, you don’t need meat because you already have a protein source.
To introduce this type of meal to your family, you may start by opening a can of kidney beans and add them to your soup. Or you can try a bowl of fortified cereal for breakfast or add tow ounces of almonds on your salad.
3. Limit fat intake
Fat has more calories than carbohydrates and protein. Thus, if you wish to maintain a healthy weight, limit the amount of fat you consume per day.
But don’t avoid them altogether. Keep in mind that your body needs them. What you need are good fats that found in vegetable oils, oily fish, and nuts. They don’t just make your family healthy, but they also reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues.
Try serving omega-3 fatty acids twice a week. It can lower risk of certain forms of a heart condition. But avoid those bad fats found in dairy and beef products.
4. Pay attention to portions
At a young age, you need to teach your kids to pay attention to the portions of food that they eat. Even if you’re eating healthy foods, you’ll still consume more. If you serve just enough for your kids, you’re training them to eat just the right amount of food to keep them full for hours.
Always pay attention to the overall calories that your family consumes. Don’t allow them to eat more than they need.
5. Don’t serve soda or sugary beverages
Drinks contain calories that don’t give satiety. Furthermore, most beverages don’t offer many nutrients. Instead of serving soda or canned juices, train your family just to drink water. It’s way healthier than other drinks on the market.
6. Limit eating packaged foods
Avoid heavily processed foods but opt for whole fresh foods, like fruits and vegetables. Processed foods are bad for your and your family’s health. Keep in mind that they contain a high amount of sodium and trans fats.
If you do need to grab packaged foods, read their labels first. Look at the nutrition facts of their boxes. First the calories, then saturated fat, sodium, and trans fat.
If their numbers are high, consider a competing product. Don’t forget to read the figures for vitamins A, C, and E, as well as magnesium, potassium, fiber and calcium.
7. Create a themed meal night
Consider having a themed night. For example, on Monday, you can have pasta, and on Tuesday you’ll have ground beef.
It usually works well for families with a tight schedule or requires a strict routine. Your family members will likely to look forward to a family meal time if they know what they can expect to be eating at that time.
8. Play with food
When you make meals, use cookie cutters. You may make fun shapes on your son’s pancakes or rice animals for your daughter. They’re not only enjoyable, but they’re also educational.
Playing with food allows your children to play the role of being an official taste tester. Let them try what you’ve prepared and give you feedback. Doing so will encourage kids to try new foods and let you find what they really want to eat.
Family Meals Mean Healthy Kids
Kids who eat with their families are less likely to get depressed. They’re also less likely to develop an eating disorder. When your child is feeling down, you can use your family dinner as an intervention. If they eat with you, you can easily identify problems earlier on.
Furthermore, your kids won’t be likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs. It’s true that substance abuse can strike any family. However, engaging with your kids at the dinner table can be a useful tool to prevent it from happening.
Several benefits of eating meals together are aplenty. But the real challenge is how to encourage your family to have fun eating together, instead of dining out with their friends?
No matter how tempting it is just to order your meal online and have it delivered at your house, it’s not a healthy option for you and your family. To combat that urge, make sure that you plan ahead.
Then, look into these eight principles to make family meals happy and healthy. They don’t only assist you in preparing better food for your family, but you’re also preventing them from picking up bad habits.
Hannah Tong is the founder of Omaby.com, a blog dedicated to providing accurate advice to mothers regarding childcare. She loves taking care of her kids and teaching them the right things. She is also enthusiastic and loves sharing her experiences to teach others about how to care for their families’ health. Check the latest article (Child’s development) here.