How to Have More Pleasant Meal Times with Your Kids

by lydia on February 2, 2012

What are meal times like in your home? Meal times used to be stressful around here. Now, not so much. It used to be I hadn’t planned well and was rushing. Or, the kids blood sugar was crashing and they were getting edgy. I also used to just shove food in front of them and not always sit with them, or even feed them in phases. Yeah, I was a big ole mess! But hey having four little kids and living in crisis can do that to ya. Now that we have gotten into our groove things are much more pleasant. So, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to have more pleasant meal times.

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How To Have More Pleasant Meal Times

  1. Make sure your kids blood sugar levels are not way off. By that I mean, make sure it hasn’t been hours since they last ate. Also make sure you know what they ate last. If it was a starchy carbohydrate with not much protein or good fat, be sure to let them snack on something while you finish up dinner. My kids have a snack as soon as they get home from school and it’s almost always something with protein and fat. This will ensure that they don’t have a spike in their blood sugar and have the long burning energy they need to keep them satiated and their mood stable. Thereby avoiding those cranky irritable kiddos at the dinner table making it an unpleasant experience for all.
  2. Sit down with your kids as a family. Teach them how to have good manners. Talk about your day together. While I was going through the early phases of my divorce someone told me how important it was to have sit down family meals together. It’s very tempting as a single harried parent to forgo this sacred opportunity, but it should not be overlooked. I find when we all sit down together and talk, that it’s like the glue that keeps us together. It’s such an awesome time to catch up, to communicate important things, but also to have fun being together. Not to mention, if you sit with your kids you can help them to not rush and run back off to the TV, computer or XBox. It’s very important to eat in a relaxed frame of mind at a leisurely pace!
  3. Every week try to make a very special meal. Make up a reason if you have to, but do something new, something fresh every so often. Kids thrive on special occasions – try a theme dinner once in awhile. Let them help you plan it! I promise it will help you to enjoy making meal times special! Once a week we have a dinner with dessert – I usually make a new dessert each time! The kids light up like crazy! Sometimes we light candles – they really enjoy that too! Try eating in a different room of the house or serving food in fun vessels! It doesn’t have to be overdone, just something simple could go a long way to setting the scene for meal times to be a total pleasure. This method also helps to not rush the meal time.
  4. Let them be involved in the dinner preparation. Even if it’s as simple as letting your little one shake in the seasonings, draw them into the food prep. They become more interested in the food when they get to be involved. They also are more apt to encourage their siblings to enjoy the meal. Even setting the table, helps them to be in touch with the process of dinner time. It takes them out of their busy little world and brings them into a way to serve the family as a whole. Not to mention you are teaching them valuable life long skills when you teach them any aspect of food preparation. My 9 year old recently thanked me for days for teaching him how to make eggs. He was so proud of his new found skill! This is one of my kids favorite recipes to be involved in making: Fish in Parchment Packets.
  5. Keep the energy positive! Focus on having a wonderful family experience rather than worrying about correcting everyone’s behavior. I find if I engage my kids pleasantly and model good meal behaviors things go much more smoothly. If a child shows inappropriate table manners, do correct them, but do so by modeling the positive action they need to make. For example, if one child sits up and tries to reach across the table when he should have asked someone else to pass it. Interrupt him and mimic the appropriate behavior. Don’t worry about perfect behavior, it’s not as important as loving and enjoying your kids. Enjoy the time – make it pleasant to be together!

Those are just some thoughts I’ve had on my mind recently about meal times. I find our meal times become more and more an experience I am pleasantly surprised by rather than dreading. Just remember you, as the parent, set the stage for how the meal times go in your home! If you are grounded, happy, healthy and prepared meal times can be an experience to look forward to.

For more thoughts on kids and eating, read this post I wrote for my friend Jo-Lynne’s site; ‘Musings of a Housewife‘, called ‘How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy.

What tips do you have for an optimal meal time experience with the kiddos?

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LydiaLydia Joy Shatney is a certified Nutritional Therapist Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is the chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health From The Inside Out in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. Sign up for the Divine Health From The Inside Out newsletter! Pick up a copy of Lydia’s eBook; ‘Divine Dinners: Gluten-Free, Nourishing, Family-Friendly Meals’.

Lydia offers specialized step by step counseling to transform your health. Personalized consultations to suit your specific needs are offered via phone or in person. Lydia offers a variety of packages offered to suit your individual needs. Lydia also offers 3 online courses: Heal Your Gut, Revitalize Your Health and A Calm Mind. Contact Lydia today to get started as well as to learn more about what she has to offer you!

 

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Megs February 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm

As a nanny of 2 small girls: 5 and 2, I’m not always hungry when they eat dinner and find myself wanting to do other things while they’re eating. But I’m going to be more aware of the ways I can make dinner more pleasurable and just sit with them even if I’m not eating. Thank you for this!

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lydia December 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm

You’re welcome Megs!

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Charlotte February 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I am trying to find a recipe for butternut squash tortillas?

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