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Having fights over family dinner? Is family dinner time stressful and more of a family fight? Cooking and eating meals together is a great way to implement healthy eating habits as a family. However, unpleasant food fights with your children can set any healthy eating plan awry.
Ways to End Fights Over Family Dinner
1. Set boundaries. Make sure that all family members understand their role at mealtime. Parents are responsible for the food and beverages served, where the meal is served, and making meal times pleasant. Children are responsible for deciding whether to eat and how much.
2. Avoid Forcing Children to Eat. While the desire to have your children try healthy foods is positive, know that kids like foods less if they are forced to eat them.
3. Set an Example. Instead of forcing kids to eat certain foods, model the habits you want your children to develop, and enjoy the foods you want them to like. Children learn table manners by watching adults model them. If your children see you enjoying fruits and vegetables, they will be much more likely to voluntarily eat fruits and vegetables. If you treat healthy eating as a chore, your children will also see it that way.
4. Minimize distractions. When you sit down for meal time, turn off the tv and mobile devices for a reasonable amount of time. Treat dinner as a special occasion, and as an opportunity to sit down and spend time together.
5. Have reasonable expectations. It takes time for kids to master new skills, such as table manners. Also, set expectations in relation to age. Encourage your kids in a positive way, and find ways to make healthy eating enjoyable for everyone.
If you still need guidance or support in creating happy, healthy mealtimes, consider working with our Health Coaches. Health coaches can support you in everything from planning and shopping for meals, developing new recipes, and meeting the individual nutritional needs of your family members.
Dr. Karen Leibowitz
Health and Medical Coach