12 Days of Eating Better Together

December 8th, 2016 by Live Well Omaha Kids

92211925As 2016 comes to a close, many of us start thinking about personal and family goals to set for the new year – maybe you want to stop a behavior, start a new routine, or make healthy choices a bigger part of your life. Studies show that it takes three weeks to create a “habit” so starting your resolution now means you’ll be well underway by New Year’s Day!

If your resolution involves making healthier choices for your family, read below about our 12 Days of Eating Better Together. This message focuses on Family Dining and gives you twelve simple steps to make the change to prepare and eat more at home together as a family.

12. Create a calendar: Set meal times that work for the greatest number of family members and make it visible on a calendar that everyone can see. Maybe evening dinners aren’t the best time for your family to get together, so consider making breakfast your meal time every day.

11. Plan meals: Include your family in the meal planning process. Let them choose one main dish for the week or pick the side dishes – they’ll feel more invested in the meal and will be more likely to eat it.

10. Shopping matters: Create a grocery list before you go to the store. Pick your meals based on sales or price match to save money. Family dinners don’t have to be fancy or expensive. To make healthier choices, shop on the perimeter of the store and only buy fresh fruits and vegetables one week at a time.

9. Prepare over the weekend: Wash and cut your fruits and vegetables on Sunday night. Make it a family activity by asking others in the home to help you.

8. Cook once, eat twice: Make extra servings for easy lunch and dinner leftovers. Fill your oven every time you turn it on by baking several meals at once.

7. Keep it simple: Good meals don’t have to take hours to prepare. Use pre-washed salad, pre-cut veggies, frozen fruits and vegetables, and long-lasting produce.

6. Be flexible: On extra busy nights use pre-prepared meals. Consider preparing on-the-go-meals such as tacos, salads, sandwiches and wraps to avoid hitting a drive-through.

5. Be creative: Kids see food differently. Engage your children and help them see the fun at family meal time. Instead of a regular plate of food, help them build a hot air balloon from their sandwich or create lava flow for their chicken with ketchup.

4. Get them involved: Get young children into family dinners by allowing them to wash or prep ingredients with a spoon. Then try putting ice water in a small pitcher so they can learn to serve themselves when they are thirsty. Older children can set the table and help with cleanup. These small additions might make kids excited about family dinner.

3. Unplug: Declare the dinner table a screen-free zone. Watching TV or hanging out with your cell phone at dinner means that kids and parents might not pay attention to their natural hunger cues and worse, may ignore each other.

2. Engage in conversation: Ask for family members to go around the table and share one positive thing that everyone did today; or name one thing you are looking forward to tomorrow. Make family meal times a celebration of an achievement or milestone in someone’s life. Taking the time to eat together at the table and recognize the moment allows your family to feel connected.

1. Set a good example: If kids see their parents valuing family dinners and eating healthy options at dinner they will be more likely to try a variety of foods.

Share your family dining highlight with us on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to take the Live Well Omaha Kids Family Dining Pledge to receive monthly newsletters, healthy family-friendly events and activities, and access to expert tips and healthy recipes.

Happy Holidays! May 2017 be your healthiest year yet!

– Sheena Kennedy-Helgenberger
Coalition Director, Live Well Omaha Kids

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