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These days, I’m an empty – nester. There are two of us in the household. Our girls flew the coup years ago and one of them has two children herself. So when my husband is away, I eat alone. And I can definitely say for myself that food tastes better when you eat it with your family. Family can be anyone who is at home at mealtime. So it may be a couple, as in my case, or one parent and a child or both parents and children or several generations eating together. This is what happens in my house at least once a week when my children and grandchildren come to share a meal.

Don’t know how to start? To start having family meals, serve the same food that you serve now, just have it together around a table. For some people, family meals mean cooking from scratch. To me, a family meal can be a take-away meal that everyone shares just as it can be a meal that you cook from scratch. The benefit, especially for children, is eating it together.

Some of you may have given up on family meals because not everyone is home in time to eat together. For children, it’s a family meal if one parent is eating with them and everyone is offered the same food. I can hear some of you saying ” but my child won’t eat the food that I like eating”. When you follow the Division of Responsibility in feeding your children, you are responsible for what is served and when and where it is served, not how much and whether your child eats. That part is up to them. Put the food on the table rather than on each persons’s plate and include at least one food that you know your child/ren will eat if they are hungry. This is usually bread, plain pasta, rice, milk or yogurt.

There are many benefits in having family meals and it’s not necessarily about widening the variety of foods that your child will eat. If you start having family meals with this one purpose in mind, you may be disappointed. The most interesting thing is that parents often report how much their children love having family meals. They treasure the time with their parents, especially when there is no pressure on them to eat a particular food or a certain amount. Just for this, it is worth sticking with family meals.

Give it a go and see your child’s reaction.