Plan ahead. Schedules get busy. Jobs, soccer, dance, homework, cleaning, and so much more tends to take precedence over mealtime, but it is important to keep nutrition a priority! Just as you would schedule out time for driving the kids to swim lessons or to nurse your baby, schedule out a time block in the week for meal planning. Make a schedule of meals, build your grocery list, and get that shopping done. Being prepared is the first step to successful family meals.
Serve at least one thing at each meal that you know everyone likes or that is familiar. Having at least one food on the table that is familiar or accepted by each child helps to show them that you honor their preferences, while still encouraging other new or not-as-well-accepted foods. If this means you have strawberries and cucumbers on your table for every meal, that is ok! Have them handy so they are easy to bring out with the rest of the meal. Use that food as a sure way to get your kiddos eating fruits/veggies, but continue to serve others in the same meal for that new food exposure. After seeing a new food several times, they may be more willing to try it
Be Consistent. Set expectations for what you want to have happen at mealtimes. Are all family members required to put some of each food on their plate even if they do not want to eat it? Do you make special foods for a specific family member or does everyone eat the same thing? Are electronic devices welcome at the table? Does everyone sit at the table until the whole family is finished? Is everyone asked to clear their own plate/put in dishwasher? Letting your kids know what is expected of them when it comes to mealtime makes it easier to enforce the rules, rather than having a different expectation every day.
Not every meal will be perfect, and that is okay. There will be times when you are a superstar, getting a balanced meal of protein, carbohydrate, and veggie on the table that everyone likes. There will also be times that you will not. Some meals may end in tears, arguing, or kids leaving the table hungry. Sometimes the best you can do is boxed mac and cheese and that is okay. Celebrate the victories! When you have setbacks, don’t let them lead you down a path of giving up. Simply push past it and keep trying. Be consistent.
Keep healthy snack items handy. Aim to have all snacks contain a protein and a fiber-filled carbohydrate, such as Puffworks Original Peanut Puffs and some banana slices, or string cheese and some carrot sticks. Snacking between meals is helpful to fill bellies that might be hungry before dinner is ready, but it is best to choose options that provide nutrients, not just fill you up.
Hilary provides the following types of coaching:
- Nutrition for Mamma Coaching
- Baby-Led Weaning/Starting Solids Coaching
- Family Nutrition Meal Planning & Coaching