Food for Talk
What is the most important meal of the day? Breakfast you say? Though breakfast is essential for kickstarting your energy for the day, dinner might be the better answer to this question.
Dinner is the prime opportunity for most families to not only nourish the body, but also to nourish the spirit, emotions and mind, and create essential family-bonding and trust that will last a lifetime.
Here are some tips for effective family dinners:
- Make it a regular routine, providing security and predictability for kids.
- Teach them…encourage the entire family to share in food prep and cleanup, giving kids the confidence that they can contribute in an important way, and equipping them with kitchen skills they will need when out on their own.
- Lead by example, respecting and maintaining the family time as consistent and often as possible.
- Plan and time afternoon snacks carefully to help curb appetite but not to replace the dinner meal.
- Make FAMILY a priority, limiting the number of after-school activities, and television and cell-phone use. Make it a family rule to keep cell phones out-of-sight during the dinner meal.
- Eat the SAME FOODS – serve the same meal for all family members. As a nutritionist, this is my number-one recommendation for families with children, starting when they are barely toddlers. If you start out this way, you will have fewer issues with food behavior problems (“picky” eaters). If a child refuses all or part of a meal, they will survive. Simply cover their plate, place it in the refrigerator and let the child know that it will be there when they are hungry (enough to actually want it!). Avoid giving in to snacks/treats to hold them over.
- Enjoy the conversation! Make table talk a happy, encouraging conversation where everyone is accepted and valued. See #8.
- PRAY…besides giving thanks, also take time to pray for specific needs, encourage children to pray, and be careful not to rush through this precious, essential element of the Family Meal. If possible, include family devotions during this time. Perhaps share devotions during the breakfast meal – what a great way to start the day! Remember…Include children in the conversation.
Eating more meals together as a family has been shown to result in better nutrition from home-cooked meals, less substance abuse among teens, higher achievement scores, better family and peer relationships, faith-building, and a host of other benefits.