It has been shown that families who eat together are healthier and happier. Meals together are a time to relax, recharge, share, laugh and connect with one another. But for many families, planning meal time can be quite stressful. Families today have hectic schedules, with limited time for sit down meals. Gathering everybody for an evening meal can be close to impossible. Now add to that the issue of good nutrition and getting kids to eat a well balanced meal, and the family meal just got a bit more challenging. Though the food choices may be plentiful, some kids are extremely limited in what they will eat, often making meal time unpleasant.
The good news is that when you do find the time to eat together, family meals can be both nutritious and the perfect time to expand the list of foods the whole family will enjoy. So regardless of how often your family can manage to sit down together, make it successful by following these tips that experts in the field of health and nutrition recommend…
-Serve regular balanced meals.
-Allow children to decide what and how much they want to eat (to eliminate any power struggle).
-Provide a pleasant environment to talk and be together.
-Expose kids to foods numerous times. The more the food is available, the more likely the child will try it.
-Role Model healthy eating by trying new foods.
-Include kids in the planning and cooking of meals.
This last tip is especially important for families with picky eaters. When kids participate in the preparation of the meal they are more likely to try it. Involvement gives kids some control in what they are eating. Christine Mastrangelo, RD, says “Children feel important when they are asked to pitch in, and because they take pride in the finished product, they’re more likely to have an open mind about eating it”.
These suggestions to help make meal time both nutritious and successful are consistently taking place at camp. Meal time is a time for campers to refuel and reconnect, and is an important part of our camp routine. The dining hall is filled with a variety of nutritious foods that campers can choose from. They are given the independence to choose the foods they enjoy and are encouraged to try new things in a positive way by having other campers and counselors role model healthy eating. Being able to make choices often results in campers trying foods and more than often going home with a new item on their list of foods they enjoy. Meals at camp are pleasant because we are all together. Meal times are about eating, sharing, singing and lots of laughs. And when it comes to including kids in the kitchen, Kitchen Stadium is a great place where campers make decisions about recipes they want to create, are hands on with preparing them, and of course, enjoy eating the finished product. Camp will always be a place where our camp family gathers to have a positive eating experience.
We wish you all enjoyable family meals as you reconnect and stay healthy!