Fun is the Secret Ingredient to Healthy Food Attitudes

Sometimes as parents we get so focused on what our children are eating (or not eating) that we miss out on a very important part of the experience: the how. Of course, table manners are important, and sometimes I wonder if those will ever come, but this “how” is more than proper use of a fork. How we eat is also about our attitude toward food, the meal, and the time spent together.

These three things are meant to be joyous. Even fun. As we’re forming our children’s social attitude toward food, fun may just be the secret ingredient to success.

It is rather hard, after a long day of working at home or an office, to make dinner amidst the end-of-day chaos, and arrive at the dinner table ready to have a laugh. I can tell when I am overwhelmed most, because my sense of humor is the first thing that fades. It’s not easy having fun, sometimes.

When I look back at my family meals growing up, the best memories are of the laughter at the dinner table, the adventures of gathering our food and making it together, not so much the actual meals themselves. I remember my brother putting half a green bean up his nose to make us laugh. I remember picking my first strawberry and making real jam from scratch, all five of us in the kitchen together. I recall giggling while my grandmother called my dad “Joey” and dished him out more ice cream than any one container could possibly hold. I remember the little squeeze of hands around the table at the end of the Thanksgiving blessing.

When I envision my child’s future, these are the kinds of memories I want her to have. Okay, not so much the green bean, but the laughter and togetherness and love that comes from a healthy relationship with food.

For the next few posts, let’s raise our milk glass to fun and forget about the mealtime stress. Let’s celebrate the joy of food, and discover how that makes better food habits for our children.

Published on: March 26, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Beth Bader

Beth Bader is the coauthor with Ali Benjamin of the acclaimed book, The Cleaner Plate Club, designed to help parents understand picky eating behaviors; where they originate, and how to deal with them creatively to get kids to eat better.

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