Beyond Food, What Makes a Meal Healthy?
Aside from the food, what else makes a meal healthy? As it turns out, there are a lot of different ways in which you can create a healthy meal!
Here are just a few ideas on how you can set you and your family up to enjoy a pleasurable meal together:
1. Eating together as a family
A Mediterranean Lifestyle emphasizes the importance of eating meals together, as often as you can. Research shows that some of the benefits of sharing meals with your family include:
- Stronger family ties
- An opportunity for parents to share values with kids
- Positive impact on young child's language development
- Reduced risk of childhood obesity
- Improved dietary intake (more fruits, veggies, and other healthy foods)
Sean Brotherson, Ph.D., expands upon the big benefits of family meals here. To read more about the health benefits of eating together as a family, check out our page on the Mediterranean Lifestyle here.
2. Making the meal fun
Kids are much more likely to sit well at the table and eat without complaining if they are having fun. And happy kids make for happier parents!
Check out our page for some unique ideas on how to make your dinner table more fun, including ideas like picnics and silverware-free dinners.
Some of our favorite family memories come from having fun at the table.
3. Using dinner as a way to connect
At dinner, try to focus on making the meal enjoyable by talking about things the entire family enjoys, top highlights of your day, shared family memories, and activities that you are all looking forward to.
Try hard to not use family meals as a time to talk about your kids’ negative behaviors or necessary corrections.
Those are, of course, important things to talk about, and should be discussed throughout the day, for example, having private time with each child, or hosting family meetings.
Your goal should be for you and your kids to remember family mealtime as a pleasant and enjoyable time together!
4. Taking a moment before you dig in
In our house, once everyone is seated at the table, we take three deep breaths together and say a simple grace. Deep breathing helps everyone calm down, re-center themselves, and prepare for the meal.
I find that after taking a few moments, whether it is deep breathing, giving thanks, or a few moments of quiet, I am so much better able to appreciate and enjoy the meal.
Being more mindful before and during a meal can help prevent overeating, too.
We have tons of other resources for healthy family meals! Check out some of our favorite recipes.
The Family Dinner Project is also a great resource for family dinner game ideas, cooking activities, and appropriate dinner conversations for the whole family!
Looking for the proven path to the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet can help prevent diabetes, reduce heart disease risk, promote weight loss, and help you live a longer, healthier life. It's backed by decades of research.
But the truth is, there's a lot of misinformation out there! It can be really tough to get started.
If you're struggling to begin, our Starter Guide & Recipe Book is the perfect first step! It gives you:
- Important principles to start using now
- A collection of easy, delicious recipes to make at home
- Actionable steps from a nutrition expert
Best of all? It's completely FREE -- our gift to you! You can snag your copy today!