Getting Started With Family Meals

Change the how of family meals first; worry about the what later. Eat what you are eating now, just have it at regular meal- and snack-times. Eat enjoyable food. For you to go to the trouble of having meals, the food has to be rewarding for you to plan, prepare and eat. Pizza makes a fine meal, so do chicken nuggets and canned peaches just arrange to have them ready at meal-time and all sit down together to share them. Put the lunch meat, bread, and lettuce on the table, and make your sandwiches together. Throw in some milk and you have a meal. If the shock of drinking milk is too great, drink what you are drinking now. Remember, the priority is structure.

Use snacks to support mealtime
For children and grown-ups to arrive at the table hungry and ready to eat, they can't have free access to food or drinks between times except for water. Have snacks at set times midway between meals. Consider snacks to be little meals, not just treats. But do include treats such as cookies and chips at meals and snacks, don't try to go without them. Don't force yourself to graze to get the food you want.

Sneak up on planning
Once you and everyone else get through the shock of structure and to the point where you have the meal habit, work toward doing more organized and varied menu-planning. But don't get caught in the shoulds and oughts. For you, and your child to do well with eating, it has to be enjoyable.

Remember, even if your meals are ho-hum, they are way better than no meals at all!

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