As any parent knows, sitting down for a meal with your children can be a stressful experience. Not only do they refuse to eat the food you put in front of them, but they can also become unsocial, much preferring to be sat in front of the tv or smartphone. A baby will throw the food across the floor; younger children will refuse to eat anything that isn’t a chip and teenagers will often be uncommunicative.
So if you are a parent looking to bring calm to your family mealtimes, follow some of the advice below.
Don’t force your children to eat
Okay, your kids need to eat something, but the more you force them, the more resistant they will be in eating it. No matter how many greens are on the plate, they might be less concerned with healthy eating as you are. Instead, provide foods they like on the agreement they occasionally try something new. They might still resist what you offer them, but at least you tried.
The reason many children don’t eat well at mealtimes is that they have been snacking throughout the day. The problem is, you may be responsible for this, so don’t give in to their demands so easily. Sweets, crisps, and chocolate should be avoided, but there are healthy snacking options, such as fruit, nuts and cereal bars.
Make eating fun
There are plenty of things you can do with food to make it fun to eat. For example, choosing a Vitamix to blend foods can provide colorful results, such as making a lovely fruit smoothie. You can pile all kinds of healthy foods in there, and your kids may never realize as they consume the juice or soup you put in front of them.
Families have changed over the years. You may be a single parent, or you or your partner may work at irregular hours. When possible, sit together. Talk to each other, share news about the day, and enjoy each other’s company. Create a relaxed atmosphere. It is perfectly reasonable to have a rule about no phones at the table. Turn the tv off, but perhaps have a relaxing piece of music playing in the background for a calmer atmosphere.
Talk about food
Often we tell our kids to do something without explaining why. Don’t demand they eat broccoli, instead tell them why they should, to give them an informed choice.
Allow your kids to take ownership of mealtimes by asking them to prepare meals with you. For example, buy a pizza base and work with them on the toppings.
Be a good role model
You might get annoyed at your child for leaving food on the side of their plates. It would be hypocritical if you did the same. If there is something you don’t like to eat, don’t prepare it in the first place. Your children watch you all the time, so let them pick up healthy eating habits from you.