This list originally started as a few notes scratched in a notebook I keep in my bedside table. Reminders. Little practices that I occasionally forget about, yet want to continue because I know they have a long-lasting positive impact on my family.
It wasn’t until a few days later, standing at the sink up to my elbows in dishes and spacing out the window at the falling snow, when I realized that you might want a similar nudge. The new year is a popular reset time for many reasons, and while I am not going on a diet or pledging any massive goals, I am taking a look at how I can improve our family food culture and strengthen healthy food habits.
I think that you are all doing a bang-up job around the family table, but perhaps in reading, you will find there are one or two practices you could adopt.
“The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life,
the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire
the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating
differences, arguing without offending.”
― Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
11 healthy family food habits to embrace in 2015
These aren’t resolutions, or even goals, they are small steps to introduce positive change in your family food life. As always, start small and don’t attempt the impossible.
1. Waste less. This one is first for a reason: wasted food makes me squirm. Cook less, if needed. Reduce portion sizes. Freeze or repurpose leftovers. Store foods correctly to avoid waste. Talk with your children about global hunger; specific projects like The Lunchbox Fund are a good starting point.
2. Plan more. Part of wasting less is making a menu plan and buying only what you need. Perhaps it’s time to implement one. I follow a loose Monday – Friday plan that I pencil out on Saturday or Sunday. You’ll find what works for you and discover that both sanity and money are saved in the process.
3. Review food values. Is eating local and in season important to you? Why? How could you improve your food sustainability as a family? I joined a winter CSA so that the majority of our produce from November to May is grown nearby (in rooftop greenhouses) and travels only a few short miles to our table.
4.Trust more. Delegating kitchen tasks to children gets easier the more you learn to let go. Give them an opportunity to shine this year. The benefits are many.
5. Stress less. Are your children only eating meat? Refusing meat? Scarfing breakfast but only picking at dinner? These are normal patterns, from what I have experienced. Guess what? They will be fine if they don’t get 3 square meals a day, so let it go this year. However, don’t skip #6.
6. Snack healthily. This is how we mums make up for skipped or shunned meals. Here are 18 healthy snacks, better for you and better for your wallet.
8. Plan a date night. The centre of a healthy family are parents that connect regularly with each other. ‘Date nights in’ are not something Danny and I have done regularly in the past, but I will be initiating more, beginning with two a month. Doable? Most certainly. Anticipated? Definitely.
9. Practice Balance. Moderation is a foreign concept to children yet never has it been more important to learn. Don’t deprive them of treats entirely, but lead by example to demonstrate that a little goes a long way.
10. Host Sunday dinner. My upcoming cookbook has an entire chapter dedicated to Sunday dinners, a practice I have embraced since this post two years ago. It’s the best meal of the week where we slow down and savour, both the food and each others company.
11. Encourage conversation. Connecting with one another around the table is why we gather as a family. Listen. Ask questions. Talk about stuff that matters and show the children you are truly interested.
What is one healthy food habit you plan to adopt this year?