Make Mealtime Fun & Eco-friendly
It’s National Nutrition Month 2023 and this year’s theme is Fuel for the Future. The focus is eating with sustainability in mind.
Eating sustainably means making food choices that are both good for the environment and your health and well-being. But we also want to encourage healthy eating habits by making mealtime fun for everyone.
Make Mealtime Eco-friendly
How do you eat sustainably? There are a few ways you can reduce your family’s impact on the environment through your food choices.
Animal agriculture is a big contributor to greenhouse gases, so reducing the amount of meat and dairy your family consumes can contribute to a healthier planet. Incorporating more plant-based proteins, like beans, lentils, and tofu into your meals can make a big impact. Combining rice and beans creates a complete protein, assuring good nutrition while reducing the amount of meat that is consumed.
Eating local and seasonal foods can also help by reducing the environmental impact of food transportation and storage. Supporting local farmers and frequenting the farmer’s market can reduce the distance your food has traveled, reducing the carbon footprint of the food your family eats.
As an added bonus, foods offered at the local farmer’s markets are seasonal and fresh, assuring your family of a variety of local options.
Shopping at local farmers’ markets also reduces plastic and packaging waste. Try to avoid single-use plastics by choosing fresh produce over pre-packaged items, using reusable containers and bags, and avoiding disposable utensils.
But eating sustainably isn’t the only goal for family mealtime. Food choices also need to be appealing to those who will be eating it.
When you make mealtime fun for the whole family you encourage healthy eating habits and create positive associations with food.
Make Mealtime Fun
Here are some tips to make mealtime fun with young children:
- Involve your kids in meal planning and preparation. Let them choose some of the ingredients and help with the cooking or preparation process. This can help them feel more invested in the meal and excited to try it.
- Make the food visually appealing. Children are often more likely to try new foods if they look visually appealing. You can cut fruits and vegetables into fun shapes, arrange food into patterns or designs on the plate, or use colorful foods to make the meal more visually interesting.
- Store plates, cups, and utensils where the children can reach them. Invite them to help set the table or collect the things they’ll need to eat their meal. Use this ‘getting ready’ stage to help them transition from what they’ve been doing to meal time.
- Create a positive atmosphere. Try to make mealtimes a positive and relaxed experience. Instead, focus on conversation and spending time together as a family.
- Use mealtime as an opportunity to spend quality time together as a family. Turn off the TV and other distractions and focus on each other. This can make mealtime more enjoyable for everyone and create a positive family dynamic. Mealtime is the perfect opportunity to practice the art of conversation. Ask your kids questions that spark their imagination, or invite them to share some observations from their day. Don’t forget to have a few observations of your own to share with them.
Making mealtime fun with young children is all about creating positive associations with food and encouraging healthy eating habits. By incorporating some of these tips into your routine, you can help your child develop a love for food, family, and mealtime.