creating a pleasant mealtime environment

One of the parents’ responsibilities is to decide where food is offered. This encompasses two elements:

  • location
  • environment

Let’s start by talking about the location. While at home, it is best to limit eating to a dedicated spot, such as your dining room or kitchen table. Recognizing that not all homes have a dedicated space for eating, you may choose a shared living room as the eating area.

Food should not be consumed in bedrooms. As keeper of the food, if you allow food into the bedrooms, you are handing responsibility of “when” it is offered over to your children. You need to guard your responsibilities.

Additionally, food consumption should be, as much as possible, a social event shared with the family. We will delve more into the benefits of family meals in a later lecture.

When you are away from home, food should not be eaten in the car. Eating on the road is a safety hazard. What happens if you slam on the break? A child can easily lose control over the food in his mouth and begin to choke. While driving, you need to concentrate on traffic and the road, not monitoring the safety of food intake! Additionally, it could be difficult to pull over, should a choking event occur. And then you’d need to undo the safety restraints before attending to the choking. This all adds up to a bad situation. On the plus side, banning food will make your car cleaner since you won’t have any crumbs to deal with!

As a recap, food should be offered in a dedicated eating space, preferably at a table, if the home has one. When away from the home, plan to have meals and snacks before or after a drive in the car.

As for environment, it is your job as a parent to create a pleasant eating environment free of distractions.

Distractions include TV, cell phones, laptops, tablets, headphones, etc.

Distractions are harmful for a couple of reasons:

  • They promote mindless eating
  • Or they literally distract children away from eating.
  • They take away from one of the beauties of mealtime = family togetherness time

Think about your current mealtime environment. Are there any distractions you need to remove?