Develop Healthy Eating Habits

Make Mealtime a Family Time

family eating at table
 Cook together. Eat together. Talk together.  Make mealtime a family time.

Family meals allow your preschooler to focus on the task of eating and give you a chance to model good behaviors.

It takes a little work to bring everyone together for meals.  But it's worth it and the whole family eats better.

  • Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young.  This way, it becomes a habit.
  • Plan when you will eat together as a family. Write it on your calendar.
  • You may not be able to eat together every day.  Try to have family meals most days of the week.

Make family meals enjoyable

  • Focus on the meal and each other.  Turn off the television. Take phone calls or texts later. 
  • Talk about fun and happy things.  Try to make meals a stress-free time.
  • Encourage your child to try foods. But, don't lecture or force your child to eat.
  • Involve your child in conversation. Ask questions like:
    • What made you feel really happy today?
    • What did you have to eat at lunch today?
    • What's your favorite veggie? Why?
    • Tell me one thing you learned today.
    • What made you laugh today?
  • Have your child help you get ready to eat. Depending on age, your child may be able to:
    • Help set the table
    • Put pets, toys, or books in another room
    • Turn off the TV
    • Pour milk (with help)
    • Put down place mats
    • Hand out napkins and silverware
    • Pick flowers for the table
    • Clear the table
    • Wipe the table

 Ideas for fast family mealsFather and daughter setting table

  • Cook it fast on busy nights. Try stir-fried meat and vegetables, quick soups, sandwiches, or quesadillas.
  • Do some tasks the day before.  Wash and cut vegetables or make a fruit salad.  Cook lean ground beef or turkey for burritos or chili.  Store everything in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Find quick and tasty recipes that don't cost a lot to make.

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