One of the most important things you can do with your kids is simply eating meals with them. Did you know that something as simple as frequently eating meals together contributes to many physical, emotional and developmental benefits for kids? As a Pediatrician, I designed every element of Ahimsa products and activities to make mealtime fun and engaging because well - mealtime is so important. This type of quality family time is priceless and, of course, like everything at Ahimsa, is backed by science.
Research studies continue to show that family meals lead to healthier children. Children and adolescents who share family meals three or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns. Studies also show that the frequency of shared family meals is associated with improved mental health, bonded families, better grades and developmental boosts in young children. Yes - this quality time around the family dining table can do all of these things!
Check out our downloadable Dish and Dine cards that help start fun discussions with your children at your next family meal. In addition to reconnecting about your day at work and school - you can also tap into the incredible imagination of young minds with these engaging conversation starters.
2. I want to put nutritious food into my children’s bellies
Every parent wants to offer wholesome, fresh, healthy food to their children. But life is busy, and the endless information on the internet can be overwhelming. As a Mom of 3 kids, I get it. The daily decisions to make and serve every day - breakfast, lunches, snacks, dinners … sometimes it feels like a never-ending mountain to climb.
That’s why I designed Ahimsa to be a straightforward tool to help you and your child make easy decisions about what goes into their bellies! Each item is perfectly sized (based on science) to help you with age-apportion portions, and the plate is a literal map of what to put in each compartment. Print our simple roadmap below and put it on your fridge to remind you how to serve well-balanced nutritious meals every time!
You can also check out our age-based food guides to help you figure out the basics of what to serve and how much. Remember that each child is different, but these can help you get a start on understanding the big picture behind serving healthy meals. And don’t forget, children are intuitive eaters, so your job is to simply serve the food, and their job is to consume the food (no more clean plate club but instead trusting that their little bodies and brains won’t let them starve!).
3. I want to teach my kids to be independent and confident
Some call them chores. I call them learning opportunities! Some of the best opportunities to teach your children valuable life skills occur in the kitchen and dining room. Research suggests there are benefits to including chores in a child's daily routine as early as age 3. These include executive function skills like self-control, planning, creative thinking and organizational abilities. These skills can help children deal with frustration and challenges, leading to success in school and playing a positive role in developing teamwork abilities. It also provides them an opportunity for success as a team member of the family. Setting a good foundation for functioning independently helps build confidence in our little ones.
Helping to unload groceries, prepping meals, setting the table and loading the dishwasher all are easy ways to enlist your child's help during mealtime while promoting critical developmental skills that last a lifetime. Check out how to teach independence with mealtime here on our blog.
So, as you enter the New Year, my hope is that Ahimsa can provide the guidance and tools to help you achieve some of the resolutions above. And remember, New Year’s resolutions can also be a great way for kids to get motivated and form good habits that can last a lifetime. Here are some great age-specific recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that can supplement your mealtime resolutions this year!
- I will try new foods when I can, especially all different colors of vegetables.
- I will learn how to help clear the table when I am done eating.
Ages 5 to 12:
- I will drink water every day.
- I will try new flavors and textures of foods, even if it’s just a bite.
- I will try to eat two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables every day.
- I will drink sodas or fruit drinks only at special times.
Cheers to a Happy, Healthy 2022!
- Is Frequency of Shared Family Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents?
- Family Dinner and Diet Quality Among Older Children and Adolescents