Tips for a Successful Family Meal Time

The shopping, the chopping, the roasting, the rounding up of family from every corner of the house—not to mention the cleaning up. Phew. Dinnertime is a lot of work! Is it really worth the effort? Today’s experts answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

We recently connected with Shelly Birger Phillips, a conscious-parenting consultant based in Bend, Oregon, to talk about the benefits of family dinners—and other mealtimes. Here are a few nuggets she shared:

Sit down for dinner as often possible.
 
Studies show that children who eat together as a family do better in school. According to Shelly, a big part of that statistic comes from the emotional stability children gain when they experience the consistency of coming back together regularly—no matter what tiffs or disturbances may have separated everyone since the last mealtime. “When kids feel worried about some little upset at home, they can get pretty distracted,” says Shelly. “Research is showing that kids who eat with their families tend to feel better about their home lives—and having that solid base helps them do better at school.”

Get your family involved.
 
True, dinner is a lot of work—but it can also be plenty of fun. Get your family in the kitchen early with simple tasks like husking the corn, snapping the green beans and whisking the marinade. And remember, any messes they make allow them to clean up after themselves, and they often will enjoy the clean up as much as the mess they’re making! Plus, Shelly points out, children who are involved with the preparation are more willing to try different types of foods and veggies. 

Play with your food.
 
Introduce new foods to your family early and often! Got some picky eaters? Shelly offers the same advice she’s used with her own daughter: At dinnertime, talk about everything but the food. Instead of coaxing your family to “take a bite” or “just try it,” keep the conversation lively while the rest of you are eating away. Pretty soon your reluctant eaters may find themselves happily nibbling on something new.  

Lead by example.
 
Research shows that, later in life, most children eat what they saw their parents eating. So fill your table with wholesome foods, nutritious beverages, and plenty of veggies—and eat up. They are watching!

You can hear more parenting and nutrition tips from Shelly Birger Phillips at www.awakeparent.com.

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