Although she knows how hard it can be to gather everyone together, TV’s “Supernanny,” Jo Frost, believes in the benefits of the family dinner.
“I understand how difficult it can be for busy parents to keep their families on track,” said Frost. “But with a few simple and easy-to-follow tips, families can achieve happy, well-balanced lives.”
Eating together can be a great way for parents to encourage healthier eating habits and to foster parent-child communication.
According to a recent survey conducted by Impulse Research Corporation, more than half (51 percent) of parents say they sometimes struggle with getting kids to eat well and more than 80 percent say their kids are at least sometimes picky eaters. A frequent challenge is getting kids to eat much-needed vegetables.
With all the news about the new USDA Food Pyramid, the survey found that almost six out of 10 parents (55.6 percent) say they don’t know how many servings of vegetables per day the guidelines recommend kids eat.
One of Frost’s tips is to use kid-pleasing pasta sauce. For example, Rag? Pasta Sauce offers more than a full serving of vegetables in every one-half cup serving of sauce, is 100 percent natural and a source of lycopene and vitamin A.
Since 86 percent of parents surveyed say that pasta with tomato sauce is one of their child’s favorite meals, pasta sauce is a good dinnertime solution for parents.
According to the survey, virtually all parents (96.9 percent) believe good eating habits are formed during childhood.
Frost suggests involving children in the meal-planning process -this will help them feel as if they have a choice, which can lead to healthier attitudes toward food as they grow into adulthood.
While hectic schedules sometimes make it difficult for frequent family meals, Frost says it’s important for families to carve out at least one to two nights a week for a family dinner that includes all members. Serving a special meal that everyone loves, such as spaghetti and meatballs or tacos, can be a great way to foster family togetherness.
It’s important to have an open dialogue with your kids, says Frost. A good way to begin is by engaging the family in dinnertime conversations that are relevant to your child’s learning and development. Encouraging each member of the family to share details about the day can bring everyone closer.