Meal time is an ideal time to begin a regular ritual of togetherness. Beyond creating time to bond your family and parent the lives of your children; absorption and assimilation of nutrients in food happens optimally when we join with those we love and intentionally slow. Fully enjoying food allows for important physiology to happen. It’s how you are designed.
5 Tips to Pull Your Family Together
1. Keep Meals Simple: Cook Thanksgiving dinner every night if you want to, but you really only need a few things for a healthy meal. Include quality protein, healthy fat, and veggies. Ideally include one raw food. Think stir fried chicken and veggies in lettuce wraps or something else that darn simple. Tuna fish salad on quality crackers with apple slices and baby lettuce or spinach couldn’t be easier.
2. Choose Family Favorites: If the kids like hamburgers serve them hamburger. There might be 100 ways to healthfully give them hamburger. Choose the best quality ingredients. Don’t give them a reason to resist by announcing your passion for health and you are serving them the ultimate grass fed ground beef and organic veggie sticks for example. Just serve it up.
3. Engage Story Telling: Kids of all ages love to hear stories about their parents, grandparents and generations past. Relate to stories about a funny time when something went hilariously wrong and then righted itself. Make it easy to be together without questioning them about their day. Soon they will be offering you their anecdotes.
4. Make it fun: Come up with fun names for healthy food. Blueberries are ‘brain-berries’; broccoli is ‘brainoccoli’ or ‘tree toppers’; carrots are ‘laser vision discs’, green beans are ‘greenie beanie swords’ and fish is ‘oceantastic flippers’, salmon is ‘silly sammy’.
You can set up a home fashioned salad bar with a variety of veggies, olives, cheeses and fresh fruit. Use the salad bar to pack a lunch or snack box for the next day with their input of what goes in, being sure to use the fun names you and they have come up with.
Give them a prize like a ‘coupon’ for extra family game time when their choices have three or more colors and they eat what they prepared. Carry conversation about the colors and what else is that color, what their favorite tastes and colors are.
5. Get them involved. Let your kiddos pick what’s for dinner one night with your guidelines of a protein, healthy fat and their favorite veggies referred to by its fun name. They will use these skills to make choices when they are away from home. Let them get involved in the meal preparation and clean up.
Senses enliven and take over for the combined pleasure of family and satisfying nourishment when you pull them together at meal time.
Better assimilation of the meal implies reduced snacking; healthy blood sugar balance and fewer dollars spent (snack foods are expensive!) and long burning energy. Long burning energy implies children with fewer attention and behavioral issues. Fewer attention and behavioral issues implies happier parents. You may even find that sniffles, coughs, and colds don’t appear as frequently as they once did because immunity is enhanced.
Be strong. Avoid being daunted by the initial eye rolls and task of putting out well balanced healthful meals regularly. It should be simple so it is sustainable. You are making memories to savor.
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