We all know eating as a family can be an important ritual towards better bonding, but it doesn’t just stop there. Deciding as a family to eat better, in general, can be a lovely common goal to bring you even closer together. Plus, your health will also benefit by following these hacks.
1. Eat predominantly at home
Home is where the health is. You are far more in control of the ingredients, portion size and budget. Eating around a table together is a beautiful ritual as it gives us a sense of belonging, as well as helping us catch up with our loved one's worlds. But eating at home doesn’t always mean around the table, you could try eating outside a couple of times a week together. It’s not all about dinner either; lunch and breakfast can be equally as nourishing for family bonding.
2. Weekly rituals
I love rituals in every aspect of my life, they allow you to get excited about the smaller things in life. For instance, when my head hits the pillow at night, I am already smiling just thinking about my sacred English breakfast tea at dawn. So whether it's saying bon appetite, giving grace or simply clinking beverages, it's time to implement cute rituals.
3. Theme nights
Restaurants and pubs do it to draw in the punters, so why don’t parents give it a shot to grab the attention of the little ones? Perhaps we shy away from schnitzel and steak nights every week, but evenings to look forward to like ‘Taco Tuesday’ or ‘Meat Free Monday’ are a superb way to bring a family even closer together. Really want to go for it? Grab some chalk and a cheap blackboard and turn your kitchen into an ever-changing pop-up restaurant - sombreros optional, but highly encouraged!
Listen to Rosie Mansfield on Kinderling Conversation:
4. D.I.Y meals
Kids love to create, that’s why you step on so many Lego pieces on the midnight wee dash. So making your own dinners is a great way to relinquish control and watch your child experiment with colour, texture and flavour. My mum used to call them 'picnic dinners'. Registered dietician and family therapist, Ellyn Satter developed a theory known as the ‘Division of Responsibility in Feeding’ where the parents are responsible for what, when and where a child eats. The child is responsible for how much and whether they eat. Try it and see if it works for your family.
5. Meal planning
Very simply, I want you to sit around the table and take it in turns to write down your favourite meals - that’s right, meals you will actually eat. And make them! Simple. The chances of you, let alone your children, trying a brand new meal every night without a tantrum is slim, so have a few comforting staples and try a couple of new meals a week.
6. Set a good example
Look, the kids have to follow in someone’s footsteps, and my bets are on you. So practice what you preach and show them through action, not only words. Eat your greens, try new foods every week, and don’t talk with food in your mouth!
7. Task delegation
Whether it’s laying the table, choosing the napkins or preparing the drinks. Delegate tasks to all members of the family that they can firstly learn, and then go ahead and flourish in. Only change up the tasks once learned and feeling comfortable in them.
Colour always wins. Bright food is fun food and quite conveniently, it's usually healthier too. If a child's (or adult's) palate seems to prefer beige food, why don’t we see what colour we can spread or sprinkle on top of the beige to jazz up its nutritional profile? Simple.
For more tips like this, read Food Hacker by Rosie Mansfield, published by Penguin Random House. RRP $29.99
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