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Healthy Eating

Everybody Wins with Family Meals


Family meals are important. Adults who have regular family meals eat better and are healthier. Children and teens who have family meals eat better, feel better about themselves, get along better with other people, and do better in school.

How to Serve Family-Style Meals at Home

We turn off the television and computer and avoid talking on the phone or texting, so our attention is on each other.

We focus our conversation on what we did during the day. We talk about what made us laugh or what we did for fun. For example, we ask, “What was the best part of your day today?”

I tell the kids about the “good old days,” foods mom and grandma made that we loved to eat.

We set a healthy table and let everyone, including the kids, make choices about what they want and how much to eat.

Kids learn by doing. So, the little one might get the napkins and older kids might help with fixing foods and clean-up.

It’s natural for moms to worry about their preschoolers’ eating habits. Offer healthy foods and let your kids choose from them. They’ll be more likely to enjoy mealtime and eat enough.

  • Get kids involved in preparing meals.
  • Set a positive example. Offer the same foods to everyone.
  • Set regular times for meals and snacks.
  • Let kids pick what to eat and serve themselves from the foods you provide.
  • Trust your kids to eat enough of the right foods over time.

It’s natural for moms to worry about their preschoolers’ eating habits. Offer healthy foods and let your kids choose from them. They’ll be more likely to enjoy mealtime and eat enough.

  1. Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young. This way it becomes a habit.
  2. Plan when you will eat together as a family. Write it on your calendar.
  3. You may not be able to eat together every day. Try to have family meals at least four times a week.
  4. Turn off the television. Focus on the meal and each other.
  5. Encourage your child to try foods,but don't force your child to eat.
  6. Talk about fun and happy things. Talk to your children about the food and encourage them to discuss the food texture, color, shape, size, quantity, number, and temperature.

Family Fun Healthy Eating

New HE Family Fun

Cook Together. Eat Together.


Family mealtime is fun time. Get your kids involved in preparing family meals. Check out these ideas for 2- to 5-year-old kids.


2-year-olds

  1. Make "faces" out of pieces of vegetables and fruits.
  2. Scrub vegetables or fruits.
  3. Tear lettuce or greens.
  4. Snap green beans.

3-year-olds

  1. Add ingredients.
  2. Stir.
  3. Spread peanut butter.
  4. Shake a drink in a sealed container.

4 to 5-year-olds

  1. Peel some vegetables and fruits like bananas.
  2. Cut soft fruits with a plastic knife. Only adults should use sharp knives.
  3. Mash soft fruits, vegetables and beans.
  4. Measure dry ingredients.
  5. Measure liquids with help.
  6. Wipe off counters.

Also, try:

  1. Potato person Decorate half a baked sweet potato. Put sliced cherry tomatoes, peas and low-fat (1%) cheese on the sweet potato to make a funny face.
  2. Put kids in charge Ask your child to name new vegetable or fruit creations. Let them arrange raw vegetables or fruits into a fun shape or design.

Plan meals ahead of time


Use the “What’s On Your Plate” calendar to plan your family meals for the week.

Family mealtime


Family mealtime is a set time and place for the family to all get together and share the same food.


Here are a few ideas to ask your family at mealtime:

  1. What made you feel really happy today?
  2. What did you eat at lunch today?
  3. What’s your favorite veggie? Why?
  4. Tell me one thing you learned today.
  5. What made you laugh today?

Eat More Vegetables and Win!


Explore More Vegetables and Win! Make mealtime fun and play this vegetable game with your family!


  1. Bring a single die to the dinner table.
  2. Start with the youngest person on the table.
  3. Whatever number they roll, they must name that many foods they like and why. Bonus points for ChooseMyPlate foods!
  4. Pass the die to the next player and continue.
  5. The person with the most points at the end of the meal wins!!

All About Healthy Eating

Educate your friends and family with these fun facts.

Click on one of the facts below to learn something new.
All About Healthy Eating
  1. Family meals help adults and children try new foods together.
  2. Meals let everyone go to the table hungry and eat until they are full. It teaches adults and children to eat the amount of food that is right for them.
  3. Meals give a time and place for families to talk, share stories, and help each other out.
  4. Eating together is one of the life's great pleasures! You and your family will enjoy the time together.

For more information visit www.EllynSatterInstitute.org

If having meals together is something new, start where you are. Keep it simple but structured. Keep in mind that we are not talking about a fancy meal where you cook everything from scratch.

Try these tips:

  1. Set a time and place for the family to get together. A meal is when you all sit down together and share the same food. Think about what to eat later – much later.
  2. Don’t offer a meal when somebody just wants to snack on something. Set regular meal and snack times.
  3. Make meals you enjoy!
  4. Offer snacks between mealtimes. Children and grown-ups should come to meals hungry and ready to eat, but not so hungry that they can’t wait. Have snacks at set times about halfway between meals. Offer water between mealtimes and snacks.
  5. You may get tired of the same foods all the time all the time. Make small changes, one at a time.
  1. Start out by deciding what you will have for dinner.
  2. Planning meals for one day or for a few days ahead of time may be helpful.
  3. Look for ways to use leftovers in another way during the week. Tuesday’s pot of chili can become Wednesday’s topping for baked potatoes.
  4. Cook it fast on busy nights. Try stir-fried meat and vegetables, quick soups, or sandwiches.
  5. Do some tasks the day before. Wash and cut vegetables or make a fruit salad. Cook lean ground beef or turkey for burritos or chili. Store everything in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Find quick and tasty recipes that don’t cost a lot to make.
  1. Encourage your family to join in with food shopping and cooking.
  2. Ask your kids to choose the vegetables and fruits to add to meals.
  3. Sit down with your family to plan a menu and enjoy spending time together.
  4. Plan a menu for the week with different foods that you like and are healthy for you and your family.
  5. Use the "What's On Your Plate" meals calendar to help your family schedule meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  1. You can use this magnetic calendar to help your family plan meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  2. Once the calendar is complete, place it on your refrigerator for easy access.
  1. Focus on the meal and each other. Turn off the television. Take phone calls later.
  2. Talk about fun and happy things. Try to make meals a stress-free time.
  3. Encourage your child to try foods, but don’t lecture or force your child to eat.
  1. Have a color contest and see how many green, red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables you can include in one meal.
  2. Give a special name to a food your child helps create. Make a big deal of serving “Karla’s Salad” or “Corey’s Sweet Potatoes” for dinner.
  3. Try a “Make Your Own” night. Let your family put together its own soft tacos, sandwiches, pizza, or salads.
  4. Place the ingredients within easy reach and let the fun begin.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

  1. Write down meals you want to make each week.
  2. Make a grocery list. Use your list of weekly meals to create a list of foods and drinks you will need to buy.

Stretch your dollar with these helpful tips:

  1. Read the sales flyer.
  2. Use coupons.
  3. Check for store brands.
  4. Join your store’s loyalty program to get special offers and discounts.

Find quick and tasty recipes that don't cost a lot to make at www.eatwellbewell.org.

For more information, visit www.EllynSatterInstitute.org or contact a local WIC agency www.azdhs.gov/azwic/ near you.

Recipes
Healthy Eating

Meet Champion Mom Anna

Recognizing amazing moms from Arizona, and what makes them champions.


"One of the things I like to do during our family meals is teach my son how to serve himself so that he can learn good portion sizes and learn to become more independent. He likes to do things on his own now, and serving himself would be another important achievement in growing up."

- Anna,
Champion Mom from Arizon


Anna made healthy changes because her family is important to her. As a family they eat together, Anna's kids learn about choosing a wide variety of healthy foods while communicating as a family.

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