Stop Re-defining Dinner!
Dinner is the special meal you eat together as a family at the end of each day. This may seem like a simple concept, but I fear we’ve lost sight of just how important the family dinner is for our kids mental and physical health, our ability to parent well and to the strength of our family relationships.
I say this not to make anyone feel guilty if that’s not how you eat at night, or to add stress to what is likely an already hectic and stressful lifestyle. I suggest we stick to this definition so that we don’t dilute the value of or ignore the importance and power of the family dinner.
For example, if you are feeding the picky eater in the family something different than what you’ve made for dinner, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to new foods. Picky eaters, more than anybody else at the table, need to try new foods over and over before they will develop a taste for them, that’s the kind of value a family dinner offers.
Eating mac and cheese over and over won’t give them the diversity of nutrients they need to build strong bones, muscles, and minds or the exposure they need to develop their taste buds. Also, catering to the picky eater devalues the time and creative energy you’ve put into creating the meal in the first place. It’s not just about the nutrients you don’t get into them that night, it’s also about the powerful lessons they’re learning over time about what constitutes a healthy meal. The nice thing is, you don’t have to force kids to eat anything they don’t care for–dinner should be a pleasant, enjoyable experience, they just need to taste everything at the table and over time their taste buds will develop and you’ll find they will eat lots of different foods.
- A drive through at a fast food restaurant.
- Individual members of the family eating different things, even if they are all sitting around the same table.
- Individual members of the family eating the same thing at different times throughout the evening.
- Everyone sitting down to the table at the same time in the evening to enjoy some food and talk about their day.
- It’s preparing and sharing one meal.
- It’s a time and space in our busy lives where family relationships are built, challenges are overcome and funny stories are told.
It’s the number one place where kids learn what foods they should be eating to sustain their bodies.
- It’s how your children will learn how to make a healthy meal and a nice salad for themselves and their families!Preparing a meal is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids, yourself and your family, so don’t underestimate its value or the creative energy you put into it. There’s a lifetime of health and happiness being built one family dinner at a time.