Is dinner time stressful? 7 tips for better family meals

dinnertime

Having a healthy dinner time means being willing to cook an entire family meal during one of the most stressful times of the day for parents, especially parents with younger children. The good news: things can get a whole lot less stressful with some thoughtful planning. And to top it all off, you’ll be creating a healthy food culture in your family.

Do your children see you cooking? Parents do more than teach their kids manners, or how to behave in public. They also give them a food culture, showing them foods and eating patterns that they’ll fall back on and share with their families. For reasons that are bigger than just family bonding, family time around the table is important.

It’s clear from the publication of the new Dietary Guidelines from the USDA, that we Americans don’t have the most healthy relationship with our food.

Positive food choices start with meal preparation

In an effort to encourage more positive food choices, the government has redesigned the flawed food pyramid into something called my plate, which has half of an adult meal serving filled with fruits and vegetables. The other half is reserved for whole grains and a portion of protein.

This is a great new design that is easier to understand, as it visually communicates the importance of plants to our diet!

One major improvement over this new design might be a distinction between fresh vegetables and canned vegetables, organic meats and processed meats, and fast-foods versus meals cooked together, and then eaten around the table.

But that’s probably too much to ask of a government design.

We at Raising Wellness believe that family time around the table is important. Just as important as cooking for yourself, and having your children see you cook. If you have young children in the home you’re creating a food culture for them that they’ll fall back on later in life–in good times in bad.

If you really want to follow the new dietary guidelines, and if you really want your children to do so too, then you’re going to have to prepare more meals at home, meals that don’t necessarily come from the freezer or a can.

But that means being willing to create a family meal during one of the most stressful times of the day for parents, especially parents with younger children. The good news: things can get a whole lot less stressful with some thoughtful planning.

Here are a few tips for creating more family dinners:

  • Plan your menu a week ahead of time, and make sure you have the necessary ingredients. Leave some flexibility for which days you are going to eat which meal. Not having a meal planned with the right ingredients will lead to more fast food and take-out ordering.
  • If your food pantry is already overloaded with items that haven’t been eaten, then go through it, keep what you want, donate the rest, and start planning meals around ingredients you already have. It will save you money. You can search for recipes by ingredient on most recipe websites. You can start searching at http://food.com
  • Create your menu list and place it on the refrigerator. Cross off the items as you cook them.
  • Make a set dinner time and stick with it. Require everyone in the family to be there at least four to five nights per week.
  • Get the kids involved in cooking, clean-up, and menu planning. This may help take some of the burden off of mom and dad, as well as help keep the kids busy while teaching them important skills.
  • Learn to cook new things. If you’re like most people it will only be a matter of time before you run out of recipes and become bored of eating the foods you know how to cook now. You need to find new foods to try, and new meals to plan. So, try a cooking class at the local park district, or search for cooking videos on YouTube. There are many free resources for people who want to improve their cooking skills, and learn the cooking basics that will help them become amateur chefs in the kitchen.
  • A family meal around a shared table with home-made food is a powerful way to revolutionize your family’s health. It’s a great way to eat fewer calories, eat less prepackaged foods, and strengthen your family’s relationships.

Written by Dr. Ward

Father. Foodie. And dedicated upper cervical chiropractor. Find me practicing gentle upper cervical care in Oakland County, Michigan. Have a question or comment? I'm at your service. Reach me at my Auburn Hills chiropractic practice: (248) 598-4002. Or on Google +, Facebook, or Twitter.

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