Family Dinner Killers.
I am sure you have heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – right?
Important for what? I believe food serves 3 main purposes:
- Nourishment – you are what you eat
- Taste – enjoying all the sensations of food is a joy. We were made to exploring sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury tastes
- Social – we are social creatures and mealtimes have been one place we have come together to converse.
For our kids I would say breakfast is definitely important for nutrition (as an adult I often do intermittent fasting). Getting our kids off to a good start for the day is a key for moods and learning. But what about the other two. If your house is anything like ours then we are trying to balance giving our kids enough time to digest their breakfast but with an eye on the clock so they are not late to school. Though my nine year old son loves morning conversations my response is usually lets talk about that on the way to school.
So these last two reasons are why I love dinner and why dinner is with a doubt my favorite meal time of the day. That is not saying it is always a joyous time because in every family we all have our ‘moments’. But it is a chance to come together and share our thoughts, feelings, joys, frustrations, success and failures amongst our family, friends and others.
The Dinner Killer?
The advent of television has reshaped our meal experience – in the most part for the negative. By eating in front of the television we lost the chance to connect with others and our food – it is next to impossible to be mindfully eating while watching television. Do we never watch tv while eating? No we do – but like sugar the key is balance and control. Friday nights in our house is ‘movie night’ and we eat in front of the box and watch a film together – and we love it – but it is the exception not the rule.
Why we need to get back to the Dinner Table
Here are some recent headlines that focus on the importance of the family getting back to the dinner table together:
- Children’s social skills ‘eroded by the decline of family meals’. The decline of traditional family meals is robbing children of vital social skills, according to a leading headmaster.
- Researchers at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, found that children were healthier and less likely to be overweight in households where families eat together around the dining table.
Top 3 ways to get your child back to the dinner table
- Empower your child to make their own plate. Don’t serve your child if they are old enough, instead place the food out on the table like a buffet. It doesn’t take any longer just put out dishes with Protein, Starchy Carbohydrates (like potatoes and whole grains), vegetables, and good fats (like olive oil, butter). This really makes a big difference and teaches your child to decide on the portion size – encourage them to listen to their body but ideally have something from each food group.
- Make dinner an experience and the conversation the This can be tough after a long day of work, then preparing the meal, and needing to get the kids off to bed but this is often one of the only times we have to get to know our kids better.
- If your child often says, ‘I am not hungry’ then it is likely because they came home from school and raided the kitchen. Create eating zones like no eating after 4pm and dinner is 6-7pm then food is put away to stop playing with food Dessert after eating the main meal