Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Style Dinners Work!

Family Style Meals has been a hot topic lately.  Simply put, this method fosters healthy eating decisions at the dinner table.  Each dish is passed around the table and kids are encouraged to plate their own food. This teaches them serving sizes, independence and hunger/fullness cues.  

During the Healthy Kids, Healthy WV week, Sarah Sturgill (Registered Dietitian and HKI Dietitian) hosted a workshop on family style dinners.  Brave families tested this approached TOGETHER with their kids while Sarah instructued us.  The menu was perfect:  spinach salad with grapes, green beans, baked chicken and roasted potatoes.  This was a lineup destined to generate success.   I've recreated the events over and over in mind and can't seem to figure out what caused the dinner to go from success to hell in less than 5 minutes.  

For two years we have conditioned our children to understand and appreciate healthy food.  Why, in the presence of a dietitian, did my kids suddenly profess a newfound love for hot dogs and ice cream?   Kids were throwing food back in the bowls, refusing to eat anything on the plate, begging to go home and get "new"food.  Parents were struggling just as much.  We tried every method the Dietitian suggested and then quickly reverted back to our "not-suggested" bag of tricks when she wasn't looking. Kids busted the parents on everything from TV time, family dinners, and eating out.  Disaster was an understatement.  

We left Project: Family Style Dinner with our ego's deflated.  To our surprise though, a little something happened on the nights following the project.  Our family continued to practice the approach and we immediately started to see results.  The kids now enjoy building their own plates.  More importantly, they are eating the food on their plates and know they must try a bite of everything.  In addition, table manners are beginning to improve and the process has generated some great discussions about the benefits of healthy eating.  Picky-eater-Dad is also giving some new foods a try in an effort to set a good example.  It's  been two weeks and we are thrilled with this approach and have no plans of reverting back.  Hats off to Sarah Sturgill.  Great work!

Want to see Sarah in action during our workshop?  Check out this short video. 

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