We’re truly passionate about children developing a healthy relationship with food and part of this process involves eating together as a family. We live in a different world than the one we grew up in. Time seems less and responsibilities seem more and Family Mealtimes are regrettably becoming inexistent. Here at Kidchen we are on a mission to bring back the old traditions and to make it easier for parents and children to sit together and enjoy the same meal.
Here are a number of reasons why we feel so strongly about this;
Eating together provides a time to be connected. This helps children feel loved, safe and secure. Use meal times to teach children about family values and traditions. Keep mealtime conversations positive. Encourage children to talk about their day, ask questions and tell them stories about childhood. This helps to develop more communication between family members.
Tip: Turn off distractions like the TV, computer, tablets and phones during mealtimes. Keep toys and books off the table.
Model Positive Eating Behaviour
You are an important role model for good table manners, trying new foods and enjoying mealtimes. Children are more likely to eat foods their parents and family also enjoy eating. Make offering new foods part of your regular mealtime routine. Children often need to see, smell, and touch a food many times before trying it. Offer new foods with familiar foods and include foods your child has refused in the past. Try not to rush children through a meal. Children often take longer to eat than adults. Remind children to eat slowly, chew their food well and enjoy what they are eating.
Health and Social Benefits to Eating Together
People of all ages eat better when they share a meal with others. They tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. Eating together gives young children the chance to learn more words and how to communicate better.
Other benefits include:
* Healthier body weight
* Lower risk of disordered eating
* Less use of cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol
* Better self-esteem and less depression
* Higher achievement in school
* Healthy eating into adulthood
I’m a huge believer in the value of involving kids in the kitchen - I know it can be stressful but it’s so important. My daughter Florence loves to “help” me cook and it definitely slows me down! However, I want to encourage her to learn, to be truly independent, as everyone should learn at least basic food preparation skills. I have seen some adults so intimidated in the kitchen that they don’t want to try and must depend on someone else, on convenience foods or on restaurants. I want my children to grow up feeling comfortable in the kitchen.
I try to let my kids help when I am not feeling rushed. Then I can stay patient so that we all have fun while they slow me down, make a mess and learn their way around a kitchen. Look at the recipe you’re using to see if there are small tasks your child can take part in. Measuring ingredients, adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper, pulling coriander leaves for you to chop later – these are all small yet important tasks that allow children to contribute.
Encourage your child to experience the food as it is being made by smelling herbs, spices and other aromatic foods and tasting little bits here and there. Talk about these ingredients – how they look, smell, and taste; where they come from and how they grow; other dishes they can be found in, etc. Remember to encourage interaction by asking questions of your own!