I want to invite you and your family to the Family table; the fun and friendly place for family health. Everyone is welcome at our table. Children and adults of all sizes and shapes are welcome. There are no requirements or special eating habits at our table. Just come as you are, pull up a chair, sit down and relax. Our mission is to bring as many families and friends to the table as possible. We want to reinforce the importance of family time in influencing our children’s health and nutrition choices. “Our table is your table”. We will be here to guide and support you on your quest for better family health and nutrition. Our table is not just about the food we eat but the nourishment we provide as parents and caregivers. The table is a place to listen to the concerns of the people we care most about. Where problems are solved, bonds are reinforced, and dreams are encouraged.
With the family being fractured in so many directions by our over scheduled lives, it is not surprising to find that the influences on our children from outside sources is growing. The media in the form of Television, internet, marketing, and celebrity worship has taken a surrogate role in guiding many of our children’s choices. The average child spends considerably more time in front of the television or computer then they do interacting with their parents. Where are they getting their health and nutrition information? We need to be the major influence on our children’s health. With the dramatic rise in childhood obesity and the related health risks such as childhood diabetes and early heart disease our children’s health is at stake. No one else can take this role of compassionate caregivers for our own children. It is your chance to make a difference in their health. Good health starts at home. It starts at the family table. We can have a tremendous impact just by being at the table. It is important that we be there in order to be their main source for information. Making a commitment to the family table is the first step in a commitment to your family’s health. We want to help you reestablish this tradition of the family table. The tradition of health and nutrition you begin today will be your legacy for generations to come.
Getting started: Tips from the family table”- Make the effort to eat together. It could be a snack, a small lunch, or an imaginary meal. Just begin the process today .
1. Make it fun- if you make it a celebration of food and the family in an informal and enjoyable manner then they will look forward to being together at the table. Be creative and involved with your children.
2. Time-“I don’t care how you get here, get here if you can”. Like the song says, the effort speaks volumes of your intent to be there for children. Even if you cannot be there on time and the children have to eat earlier. They can eat their snack at the second meal with you .Make the pretense of having family meal time when you get home.
3. Consistency- Don’t be “random” and vary the routine. Once everyone agrees on the ground rules stick with it. Make every effort to continue the family meal on a regular basis.
4. Make it a special time-if you honor this time as special so will your children. They will grow up with the feeling of the time together being sacred. There are no do overs. You cannot go back when they grow up and wish you had spent this time together.
5. Atmosphere-this is a non-judgmental and unconditional time to be together. An open and honest place to share and be yourself. “Be there”. Pay attention to your children and include them in the conversation.
6. Be flexible- everyone’s time is important. Try to allow for adjustments for each member of the family’s schedule. The goal is getting as many people to the table at the same time.
7. Where do we eat? It does not have to be the kitchen table. But it should be in a location that is conducive to sharing a meal and not having a food fight. The family table can be anywhere, including at a restaurant, as long as your goals remain the same.
8. What and how we eat? Quality over quantity. Do you eat just to fill up the tank and keep going or do you bring the health value of food to the table? Fast food restaurants do not force you to eat fast. Putting a stopwatch on the meal definitely leads to less interaction with each other and less concern for the quality of the meal. So slow down. Your children eat what you eat. Be aware that you are their role model and your dietary habits will be theirs.
9. Purpose – game plan. What are your goals for the table? What goes on in the rest of the world is not in your control. But time well spent at the table will give you the opportunity to impact your children’s growth and health.
10. No distractions- healthy eating habits begin by doing only one thing at a time. Limit all other activities that do not involve the family or food. Interaction involves people not the television, computer, or telephone.