•Plan tasty menus together. “Putting together a family meal does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Let every member of the family choose a favorite item and build simple, delicious meals around them. Even small children can pick a main dish like tacos or pasta, a vegetable like a green salad or cooked carrots and sliced apples or fruit salad for dessert,” Ginn says.
•Set the right mood. “Food is just one important part of mealtime. Your table setting can improve the mealtime mood with very little expense: a candle, colored napkins and wipe-clean plastic tablemats for children,” Ginn says.
•Talk! “The conversations families have while eating together have a huge impact, as you share experiences and ideas, and pass along family values. Pick topics that are positive and allow everyone to talk. Even toddlers like to discuss topics like ‘What is your favorite color?’ or ‘What made you laugh today?’” Ginn says.
•Turn off the TV, phones and anything else that makes noise. “They create distractions that can throw off any family’s mealtime routine,” Ginn says. “Declare mealtime a TV- and phone-free zone, except for emergencies, of course. Instead, put on some background music, played at low volume, to add a relaxing atmosphere.”
No matter your children’s ages, parents and caretakers can find countless resources and a wide range of information about eating right – all backed by the unequalled expertise of nutrition professionals like registered dietitian nutritionists – at Kids Eat Right (www.KidsEatRight.org), a joint initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy’s Foundation. “Kids Eat Right helps families shop smart, cook healthy and eat right,” Ginn says.
You can also get helpful reliable information from www.choosemyplate.gov and through Extension at www.extension.purdue.edu
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