Sitting down together for a meal whenever you can is a great way to connect with your family. Keeping it relaxed is key to making sure you are getting the most out of this time together, including talking, laughing and choosing healthy foods. Here are some tips from families for making meals more relaxed in your home:
- Remove distractions. Turn off the television and put away phones and tablets, so that your attention is on each other.
- Talk to each other. Focus conversation on what family members did during the day, for example, what made you laugh or what you did for fun. Other conversation starters include:
- Give each family member the spotlight to share their highlight, lowlight, and “funnylight” from the day or week.
- If our family lived in a zoo, what animals would we be and why?
- If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
- If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one food to eat, what would it be and why?
- Pass on traditions. Tell children about the “good old days” such as foods grandma made that you loved to eat.
- Let kids make choices. Set a healthy table and let everyone, including the kids, make choices about what they want and how much to eat.
- Let everyone help. Kids learn by doing. The little one might get the napkins and older kids help with fixing foods and clean‐up.
- Make-your-own dishes like tacos, mini pizzas, and yogurt parfaits get everyone involved in meal time.
- On nice days, opt for a change of scenery. For example, go to a nearby park for a dinner picnic.
- Reserve a special plate to rotate between family members, for example on birthdays, when someone gets a good grade, or any other occasion you’d like to recognize.
This information, and much more, is available on a new website from the USDA, MyPlate, My Wins for Families, featuring healthy eating tips, activities for all ages, tasty recipes, and even a “dance party” song about the five food groups to get kids excited about playing along.