Got one (or several) picky eaters on your hands? As parents, we’ve all been there. If you’re concerned about what your child does or doesn’t eat, the solution to your meal time woes could be as close as your kitchen table. Eating together as a family provides a multitude of benefits, like allowing parents to act as role models and create a supportive environment that promotes healthy eating. Children of families who regularly eat together are also less likely to be obese, exhibit behavior problems, or use drugs and alcohol as they get older. Plus, they’re closer with their parents, which is always a good thing. To make family meals a regular occurance in your home, try these easy-to-follow tips:
1. Keep it Simple – Don’t set yourself up for failure by choosing a recipe that calls for 20 different ingredients, 15 of which you dont have on-hand. Instead, build an arsenal of go-to recipes and ingredients that can ensure that you’ll be in and out of the kitchen in a half hour or less.
2. Choose Multitasking Ingredients – Ingredients that you can incorporate into more than one meal can be a major time and money saver. It doesn’t take any extra time or effort to grill four chicken breasts instead of two, for example, and you can save the extras for quick and easy lunches or as part of a future family dinner.
3. Just Say No to Take-out – We know it’s tempting; after a long day, a quick stop at your local Chinese spot or fast food chain seems almost too easy to pass up. It’s no secret that grabbing take-out regularly can expand your family’s waistlines, so make sure you arm yourself with everything you need to whip up a fast and healthy meal at home, that way take-out doesn’t seem like the easier option.
4. Ask for Help – If you have a family, you have an army of little helpers at your disposal, so put them to work! Ask the kids to set the table, pour drinks, chop veggies, or make a salad. Getting them involved will make them more likely to try different foods and illustrate the importance of making meals and eating together.
For more information on whipping up healthy family meals in a flash, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at www.eatright.org. One of our favorite resources for quick and easy weeknight dinners is Real Simple Magazine at www.realsimple.com.
Want more strategies to coax the picky eaters in your family? We’d love to help! The registered dietitians at Family Food specialize in picky eating, so feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail to learn more about our services, or leave us a message on Facebook and Twitter. Your insurance plan could qualify you for SIX FREE VISITS!