Read our tips for calm family mealtimes to help your family eat together from Anna, our Nutritional Therapist working in Bristol.
We recommend creating family mealtimes with your kids whenever you can. It’s not always possible to all eat together due to work patterns, but eating together can be a lovely routine in your day. It’s just not always easy, right?
So it’s the end of the day, you’ve been at work, or you’ve had your children with you all day, you’re all tired, and you just want to get them fed, and into bed. But the bickering, shouting, food refusal and crying whilst you’re trying to cook, then feed them can really raise anyone’s stress levels. Especially when your own energy is low too.
We’ve been running Baby Weaning classes for a little while now, and we begin by asking attendees to think about their own experiences of mealtime when growing up. What do you want to create in your own family, and what do you want to avoid? Did you have to sit at the table until you were finished, did you get rewarded for finishing vegetables with pudding?
Think about what kind of dinner time you positively want to choose to create with your own little ones. Ask yourself how this differs from what you actually do.
What changes can you make to help you feel calmer? (which don’t involve drinking a large glass of wine!) 🙂
How to create happy mealtimes
Here are some suggestions to support happy family meals
- Eat with your children. If you are sitting down to eat as well there is less pressure then you watching them eat and hurrying through the meal.
- Turn off all distractions like radio, laptops or TV. Make this a time when you concentrate on the food and conversation with your family.
- Light a candle in the middle of the table – most people normally save candle light for special events, but using it every day can help to create a soft mood that is relaxing and a sense of occasion. Obviously the flame needs to be out of reach of little fingers!
- Breathing before a meal – when we’re stressed our cortisol levels are high, which slows down our digestion. To help calm you before you start the meal take 3 deep breaths, in and out, to help reduce stress hormones. You can ask your children to join in too – can they make the flame in the middle of the table dance with their out breath?
- Ask you children to help prepare the meal with you. Can they stir the sauce, or chop some soft foods with a blunt knife? Age dependant obviously, but getting kids involved in food preparation can sometimes help them to eat.
- Get older children to help set the table and take responsibility for a small job around meal preparation.
- My children are 3 and 7 and we have recently introduced a new routine of asking each other about our day. We ask, ‘what was the best thing that happened today?’. Sometimes we go round again and ask ‘what was the next best thing that happened?’ and it’s a really lovely way to share the good parts of the day.
- Obviously conversation doesn’t really work two ways with toddlers and babies, but you can still talk to babies about their food: What are they eating? What colour is it? Where does it come from? etc. You can also run through the day with your toddlers, ‘do you remember going to the park? It was fun going down the slide wasn’t it?’
Are you looking for tips on healthy meals for you and your family? Get in touch with Anna to find out how nutritional therapy can help you with your health goals. A free 15 minute health consultation is available on request – firstname.lastname@example.org or 07812010412 to book yours.