How To Make Family Dinner Peaceful again


How to Make Family Dinner Peaceful Again

I used to dread family dinner (and sometimes I still do). I had become a short order chef. I was making 4 separate meals for each member of my family based on what I knew they liked. It was exhausting and I ended every evening in a fight.

I was a professional bribe and negotiator.

“Eat three bites and then you can be done”.

“Try one bite of broccoli and then you can have a brownie”.

My kids would over eat “junk” food because they felt like they could never have it, and it would frustrate me that they would over choose these types of foods and not what I perceived as healthy foods.

10 ways to make dinner peaceful again

It was exhausting. And it came to the point that we all hated broccoli AND brownies.

As a woman who has struggled with her relationship with food for longer than I can remember I did not want this pattern to continue with my children so I started reading, and asking questions. I knew there had to be a better way. And mostly I wanted the dinner of my childhood. A dinner with laughter, and deep questions, and bonding. Not fighting, and crying, and bribing.

Here are a few resources I found and loved.

I discovered Yummy Toddler Food on  Instagram, but later followed her website and podcast. She talks about gentle nutrition and introducing our kids to a variety of foods in a safe and non threatening environment. She also is where I first learned about the idea of serving meals “family style”.

I also loved the book “How to Raise a Mindful Eater”.  This book was revolutionary in how I view feeding my children. I would highly recommend it if your family dinners feel like mine did.

Making family dinner peaceful again

After consulting these resources these are 10 changes we implemented:

  • I make the decisions about WHAT we eat and WHEN we eat.
  • My kids decide HOW MUCH they eat.
  • If we are having desert it is served WITH dinner. Dessert is never used as a reward. I want my kids to know when their tummies are full, and also to enjoy dessert and not because we’ve fought about it moments before.
  • If I don’t want my kids to choose it, I don’t buy it. And if I buy it I accept the fact that they will want to eat it.
  • I buy a few of those “fun” foods a week. So that they can try them in a safe environment. Once I started buying them they didn’t beg for them any more, they became “normal” and they stopped over eating them.
  • Before each meal we do a “tummy” check, and we drink a glass of ice water.
  • We serve each meal family style. My kids dish up what they think they want to eat. They can always have seconds, but we try not to waste food either.
  • We encourage trying new things by introduction but not by bribery.
  • We try not to praise our kids for trying new foods, but instead talk about how tastey they are, and how they make us feel.
  • We don’t refer to foods as “good” or “bad”

These implementations are new to us, but they have made a healing difference in our family meal times and I hope they can help your meal time too!

Making family dinner peaceful again