Now that my kids(2 and 5) are starting to get older we have them sit at the table with us at dinner as opposed to eating at the toddler table. It’s a nice end to the day where we all enjoy the same dinner and talk about what we did that day. In the last 6 months we have found that by doing this they eat more at dinner and can sit for longer, which is a plus for when we decide to dine out a restaurant.
Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), says that ‘children who regularly eat meals with their families eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich foods, and drink fewer soft drinks than other children their age.’
Their spokesperson Lisa Renn said,
‘Family meals encourage slower eating, compared with grab-and-go meals. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to know your stomach is full. And taking the time to eat slowly means eating fewer kilojoules.
‘Plus, families at home tend to serve healthier portion sizes than fast food outlets and restaurants, so regular family meals are a body blow to childhood obesity.’
Trading TV time for for at least five meals a week together can help strengthen family ties.
‘By switching off the TV, conversation will flow more easily and you’ll enjoy each other’s company – and the food you’re eating. So you’ll not only be healthier but happier as a family,’ said Ms Renn, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
‘If you want your family to live healthy, happy lives you need to make healthy food and family meal times a priority. What you feed your family and the patterns you set up today will predict their future health,’ said Ms Renn.
Because we all live such busy lives, planning ahead is the key to scheduling family meal times and nutritious choices. To help with this Lisa offers these tips for quick and healthy family dinners:
- Choose dishes that are easy to assemble, such as soup with crusty bread, salad with lean cooked chicken or tuna mixed through, or pasta with a tomato-and herb-based sauce.
- Use a slow cooker or crock pot. Prepare your meal early in the day and place in the slow cooker. At dinner time, a hot meal will be waiting.
- Make burgers or pizza at home. This will be healthier and cheaper than the take-away versions. Buy pizza bases at the grocery store, and add your own sauce and toppings (like lean chicken pieces, mushrooms, capsicum and pineapple).
At our house I do a themed nights that like – Nacho, pizza or taco night, which the kids like.
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