Healthy family meals are an important part of optimizing health! We’ve found that the easiest way to make lasting changes is by making it a family affair! Finding dinner ideas that work for the whole family can be challenging. Prepare to get excited, because the recipes below are kid-approved, healthy family meals that everyone can eat and enjoy together!

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Beyond food

Aside from the food, what else makes a family meal healthy? As it turns out, there are a lot of different ways in which you can create a healthy family meal! Here are just a few ideas on how you can set you and your family up to enjoy a pleasurable meal together:

1. Eating together as a family

A Mediterranean Lifestyle emphasizes the importance of eating meals together, as often as you can. Research shows that some of the benefits of sharing meals with your family include:

  • Stronger family ties
  • An opportunity for parents to share values with kids
  • Positive impact on young child's language development
  • Reduced risk of childhood obesity
  • Improved dietary intake (more fruits, veggies, and other healthy foods)

Sean Brotherson, Ph.D., expands upon the big benefits of family meals here. To read more about the health benefits of eating together as a family, check out our page on the Mediterranean Lifestyle here.

2. Making the meal fun

Kids are much more likely to sit well at the table and eat without complaining if they are having fun. And happy kids make for happier parents! Check out our page for some unique ideas on how to make your dinner table more fun, including ideas like picnics and silverware-free dinners. Some of our favorite family memories come from having fun at the table.

3. Using dinner as a way to connect

At dinner, try to focus on making the meal enjoyable by talking about things the entire family enjoys, top highlights of your day, shared family memories, and activities that you are all looking forward to. Try hard to not use family meals as a time to talk about your kids’ negative behaviors or necessary corrections. Those are, of course, important things to talk about, and should be discussed throughout the day, for example, having private time with each child, or hosting family meetings. Your goal should be for you and your kids to remember family mealtime as a pleasant and enjoyable time together!

4. Taking a moment before you dig in

In our house, once everyone is seated at the table, we take three deep breaths together and say a simple grace. Deep breathing helps everyone calm down, re-center themselves, and prepare for the meal. I find that after taking a few moments, whether it is deep breathing, giving thanks, or a few moments of quiet, I am so much better able to appreciate and enjoy the meal. Being more mindful before and during a meal can help prevent overeating, too.

Other resources

We have tons of other resources for healthy family meals! Check out some of our favorite recipes. And lots of great ideas in our blog! The Family Dinner Project is also a great resource for family dinner game ideas, cooking activities, and appropriate dinner conversations for the whole family!

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