The return to a slightly more normal life means for many parents a headache for lunches and evening meals. It's normal to find me altimes difficult at times, but here are some tips for keeping me altimes relaxed.
To feed your child well is certainly to offer him food with nutritional qualities, but also to ensure an environment conducive to tasting and appreciating food. What is an enabling environment? A friendly atmosphere and a positive attitude from parents promote all types of learning, including good eating habits. The search for harmony during meals will be all the more important if your child is difficult (food variety to be improved), if he has a small appetite or if he is overweight. If you allow time for the eating ritual, you will be more receptive to suggesting solutions to your child's eating difficulties. At this time of the new school year, take a break to assess your family situation.
As an adult, we sometimes forget that children are comfortablein routine. So, try to establish a routine for the end of the day feeding. By having an established framework, you will promote good food intake and be able to better intervene in your child's eating difficulties if necessary.
- When you get home, plan a light snack such as raw vegetables, fruit, soup, carrot salad, depending on the time needed to prepare the meal. You will therefore avoid the famous: "I'm hungry, when do we eat?" Which inevitably increases a parent's impatience and leads you away from the desired harmony at me altime! Determine beforehand the portion of the snack so that it serves to calm an empty stomach without diminishing the child's interest in the meal. A difficult child who is no longer hungry will not bother to taste a new food. As for the child described as greedy (less attentive to his signals of satiety), he will tend to eat everything that is presented to him even if he is no longer hungry.
Time spent at the table
A child of 2 to 3 years stays between 10-15 minutes in the same place; a 5-year-old child is able to stay at the table for about 20 minutes. Considering this reality, it may be relevant to allow the child to be absent from the table between the main course and its complement (dessert).
- Plan a partial or preparation of the meal. During the day dedicated to the grocery store or a weekend day, plan the distribution of meals (supper as a priority) for theweek. Here is a useful planner for this kind of exercise. You can enter the name of the recipe or the type of meal (ex: chicken, legumes, etc.) It is desirable to have at least three meals completely ready, especially if the children have extracurricular activities which involve either a early or a late supper. This will make you more efficient and relaxed.
- Ten minutes before serving dinner, have your children wash their hands and have them do something quiet. A special box could contain reading or coloring books, puzzles, etc. The children will find a little calm and will be in a better position to enjoy the meal. Listening to signals of satiety is more instinctive in children than in adults. Sometimes, however, the child has difficulty understanding them. Therefore, the calm child who talks happily will have an easier time targeting his appetite.
Atmosphere and environment
Avoid unnecessary distractions and disturbing topics of conversation, television and screens should be turned off. Ambient music can accompany the meal very well.
When you have time, brighten up the table with simple accessories: colorful tablecloth, patterned napkins, candles, Sunday dishes, etc.
As a parent, letting go can be beneficial in maintaining the harmony of the meal. Appetiteof a child varies from day to day and many factors can influence (e.g. fatigue, illness, tastes of the child, etc.). The portion guides represent a balance to be achieved and not, an absolute daily!
As the saying goes: we eat with our eyes first. Occasionally use the theme strategy, i.e., create an atmosphere related to the dish prepared for the meal. For example, add some Mexican elements to introduce a meal of fajitas…so everyone in the family will enjoy the meal. Even children who are reluctant to taste new foods will get caught up in the game!
In short, a strategy that does not reach its full potential today may very well yield the desired results in a few weeks. Nothing is perfect, but it is possible to experience family meals in harmony. Patience is key. If in doubt, consult a nutritionist.