With all the changes we have made in our home, the most pride for me comes in watching my kids eat. They ask for seconds on salads, enjoy grilled fish, shrimp, sweet potatoes, asparagus, green beans. They snack on edamame, apples, oranges, and love when fresh berries are in season. We gave them life, and now my Husband and I are ensuring it will be a long and healthy one!
Eating family style has so many benefits. First and foremost, your kids want to be like you. If they see you heaping loads of fresh, yummy veggies onto your plate, they will want to do the same (maybe not at first, but trust me-it will come). Secondly, I think kids can get immediately turned off by thinking they HAVE to eat something simply because it is on their plate. On the other hand, if I serve fruit and veggies on a platter in the middle of the table, it takes the immediate “I’m not eating that” out of the equation, and instead the kids become curious as to what is for dinner.
Even if I make a meal that maybe does not lend itself to being served “Family Style” I try to find a way to present it that way.
Benefits of eating “Family Style”:
- Teaches your children fine motor skills as they pass bowls, use tongs and other serving pieces
- Teaches manners as they say “please” and “thank you”
- Teaches sharing and the concept of taking turns
- Slows down eating for the whole family
- Lends to the “art of conversation”, as food is passed and people settle in there is time to talk (learning to wait your turn to talk, not interrupting)
- Teaches children social skills and the etiquette of eating in a group setting (patience, waiting while everyone gets food on their plates)
- People (adults and kids) learn to take what they feel they are hungry for, and learn to gauge how much food they need on their plates
- People also tend to take less as they want to be sure there is enough for everyone at the table
If your family is not eating at least one meal per day together- reevaluate. Study after study has shown that kids who eat with their families:
- Are better adjusted
- Perform better academically
- Have improved nutrition, and overall healthier eating habits
- Communicate more openly
Putting it all together:
Dinner a few nights ago was the Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic (a recipe from Jillian Michaels).
After the asparagus were marinated for a bit, I took the marinade and tossed some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers in it. I then placed those veggies over a bed of lettuce and gently tossed it with my hands. That acted as a bit of dressing for the greens, adding very few calories, but lots of flavor. The sliced steak and grilled asparagus were then put on the bed of greens. A dinner I could have served separately on each plate was served Family Style! Perfect!
Even a healthy afterschool snack can be made more inviting when kids see a giant plate of healthy foods, verses an individual bowl or plate. Think outside the box, have fun with it, and most of all lead by example-eating lots of the healthy stuff!
Jennifer Joffe lives in the Seattle area with her husband and two children. She is a fulltime Mom, Wife, and small business owner. A little over 3 years ago a friend challenged her to go 5 days without eating any processed food…it was a life-changing experiment that led to her blog www.TheGoodStuff411.com where she shares the foods, recipes, and products that help make eating real, whole, and healthier foods easy and fun for her friends and family.