The Family Meal

The Family Meal

Guest Post by Allison Zomer

I have to admit it, I have a pretty great job. Every day I get to talk with parents, teachers, doctors and community leaders and focus on one simple question – how can we help our kids reach their full potential? That is a huge question, which is why I have been so amazed that they all agree on one answer: eat together.

Doctors, educators and parents all attest that when families eat together, two magical things happen: kids eat better, and family ties grow stronger. The second point has always made sense to me, because I have fond memories of sitting around my own family’s table. It was (and still is) a place to talk to and connect with the people I love. But does eating together really help kids eat better? In fact, it does, and there are a few key reasons why:

  • Kids want to be like you! When kids see you making good food choices, they want to follow in your footsteps. 
  • Food fights are avoided. When the whole family eats the same meal, there’s nothing left to argue about! Kids should always choose whether they will or won’t eat what is provided (so long, clean plate club). But serving a single meal for everyone puts parents back in control of what goes on the table. 
  • Taste-testing becomes easier. Kids need to try new foods over and over before they develop a taste for something. Serving a family meal where you regularly offer new foods helps kids become more comfortable with and actually learn to love the foods that are better for them. 

So if you have ever struggled with a picky eater, or worried about your child getting what they need to grow strong and healthy, think about sitting down together and sharing a single table, and a single meal. Start small – one meal a week, or just on the weekends. You just might find a tasty new family tradition that helps everyone at the table eat well and grow closer.

Alli Zomer manages community wellness initiatives for HealthPartners and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. She is the daughter of Especially for Children founders Priscilla and Steve Williams.