Healthy Eating for Families
Lunch and Learn: Healthy Eating
Why eat together?
- Studies show that the most people, children, teens, older adults and singles, eat more balanced meals and a wider varied of foods when they eat with family and/or friends.
- Family Tradition
- Food served at the family table helps shape and give lasting meaning to our culture heritage. Positive food memories created during childhood are cherished for life.
- Shared mealtimes offer a chance to communicate with neighbors, friends, and family, helping to build a strong spirit of community and commitment tone another.
- Culinary Skills
- Children learn basic cooking skills and to appreciate a variety of tasty foods when they are involved in mealtime preparation.
Family Meals with Growing Children
Children go through growing stages and so does their eating behavior.
- Messy eaters are just learning to use forks and spoons. Parent’s need to be ready to wipe up spills.
- Do best with finger food.
- Eat only 1-2 tablespoons of food at a time. Appetites go up and down during the day. Parents do not need to worry.
- Say “no” to new foods. When parents ignore the “no” and just eat and enjoy the food, the toddler will begin to eat and enjoy it too.
- Need a quiet time before meals to calm down.
- Learn new words from mealtime conversations.
- Are curious and ask “why”.
- Like to help mix or stir food, make sandwiches or clean fruits and vegetables.
- Like to eat foods they help prepare.
- Eat best when surrounded by pleasant conversation.
- 6 to 12 years-olds
- Generally eat well.
- Are cooperative.
- Can carry on conversation. Children are more talking about and accepting of new foods.
- Want foods they see advertised on TV if in early years.
- Enjoy cooking and eating simple foods they make during the later years.
- Are learning how to be adult and are trying different behaviors
- Able to handle some responsibility for preparing meals, if there is time.
- Are prone to big swings in mood and eating jags.
- Eat foods eaten by friends.
- Need to have adults listen and talk with them
- May complain about family mealtimes, but still need adult conversation and family meals.
Take the Fight out of Family Meals: Dividing the Responsibilities
- What food is served
- Sever a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid
- Make sure there is something children likes at each meal.
- When food is served
- Schedule regular times for meals and snacks.
- How much to eat
- Serve small portions. Allow children to ask for second helpings.
- Don’t tell children they haven’t eaten enough. Their bodies will tell them when they are hungry.
- Whether or not to eat.
- Don’t worry if a child does not eat well at a meal. If a child is not snacking they will eat if hungry
Visit Oregon State Extension Service recipe database and nutrition education website at: