1). Family Dinner Time: Dining together is important. According to a study by Hammons & Fiese, 2011 – children in families that sit down to dinner together regularly are 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods and 12% less likely to be overweight. Connecting over dinner teaches manners, social skills, and engenders self-worth. Another study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital found kids who ate dinner with their families at least five times per week were also the least likely to take drugs, feel depressed or get into trouble.
2). Model Behavior: Do you skip meals? Do you eat correct portion sizes? Do you eat your vegetables? Kids learn by example – if you don’t have healthy eating habits, how are they suppose to learn them?
3). The Family that Cooks Together, Stays Together: Why should you do all the work? Enlist your children’s help with age appropriate tasks from choosing the best vegetable to chopping them, from making marinades to sautéing. It’s not only a great way to bond, they are much more likely to eat what they had a hand in cooking. Plus, they learn math, science, and life skills in the process. I call that a win any way you break it down!
4). Keep It Exciting, Encourage, and Never Punish: Associate trying new foods or cuisines with fun stories and adventures. Encourage your children to at least taste new things but avoid making an issue of it. They are not going to like everything initially, so don’t turn them off by being rigid. By the same token, if you are constantly offering alternatives – why should they try? Try implementing the “one taste” rule. Our taste buds change and expand over time. The point is to open their minds and widen their culinary horizons.
5). Keep Healthier Options Readily Available: So much of our getting away from healthy eating has to do with time deprivation. Use the Personal Chef Approach to plan and cook ahead, and those healthier options can be just as convenient and fast for them to grab. To maximize your time use the recipe scaler to double recipes, and make curried or pesto chicken salad with leftover lemon garlic chicken, turkey meatloaf sandwiches, or a quinoa salads with any excess vegetables.