The Family Dinner: Nutrition and Nurturing
Why it's so important to eat together -- and how to find the time
Power Up the Plate continued...
Making simple changes, one at a time, is the best way to get your family to
eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less fat. Start with working
more salads and vegetables into your meals. Then try a vegetarian meal once a
week, focusing on foods already familiar to your family like chili or
frittatas. Be creative, and remember it may take a few tries before a new food
Preparing meals at home us much more economical gives parents control over
both the quality and quantity of food. Sensible portion sizes need to be taught
at home so kids don't grow up thinking supersized is normal.
Many adults who struggle with their weight never really learned how to
identify hunger and fullness. Help your children understand how to eat until
they're comfortably satisfied but not full by letting them serve themselves as
early as age 5.
Dismiss the instinct to encourage your kids to clean their plates. This only
teaches them to follow visual cues when eating instead of tuning in to their
sense of satiety.
Be a Role Model
Parents play a big role in shaping children's eating habits. When parents
eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and sugar and high in fiber,
children learn to like these foods as well.
Your commitment to a healthy diet will encourage your children to recognize
the importance of good nutrition. This can carry over into settings where kids
make their own choices. If your child eats lunch at school, review the weekly
lunch menu with your child and make suggestions for healthier options.
I am proud to say that the children of this dietitian have gotten the
message and for the most part prefer healthful food. When my son was in college
he negotiated an increase in his food allowance to help pay for the added
costs of more nutritious fare at fast-food and neighborhood restaurants.
Remember that mealtime is an excellent time to teach your children proper
behavior as well as good nutrition. Actions speak louder than words, so teach
your children by showing instead of telling. Be a role model for good eating
habits and good table manners.