Rebecca Gebhardt is a mother of two young children, and when it comes to family mealtime, she admits it can be stressful.
“I would say about 80 to 90 percent of the time that we eat, we’re fighting about food,” Gebhardt said.
She’s not the only parent facing that problem. That’s why Gebhardt and the other women in a mom’s group at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Maple Grove wanted to get some pointers from a registered dietitian.
“One thing that’s very important, I think, when you’re having family meal time is just to focus on the family, not the food,” said Andrea Potashnick, a registered dietitian from Plymouth. “So the conversation isn’t about, ‘Oh you need to eat more of this,’ or ‘Why don’t you try this, it’s really good.’ But it’s about bonding together as a family and enjoying the mealtime experience.”
Potashnick conducts a number of these workshops throughout the metro to help ensure that children grow up having a healthy relationship with food.
One way to do that is to avoid labeling your child as a picky eater.
“If you have a child who identifies themselves as a picky eater, it becomes very difficult to try to get them to try a new food because they associate a new food with something that is not a part of what they’re okay and comfortable trying,” she said.
Another tip she recommends is to be cognizant of a child’s likes and dislikes regarding food, but to avoid completely catering to them.
“So if a recipe calls for mushrooms and you know your child doesn’t like mushrooms, I would rather you include the mushrooms in the recipe, but if they want to pick them out one-by-one, that’s okay,” Potashnick said.
During the 90-minute session, the mothers took notes, asked questions, and bounced ideas off one another.
Going forward, Gebhardt plans to be more conscious of the food she buys.
“We eat pretty well at meal time, but the snacks, they’re full of sugar, they’re carb loaded, and they’re really not that good,” Gebhardt said. “So I’ll definitely be doing more research.”
If parents want more information on how to help make their family meal times more enjoyable, Potashnick has tips on her website.
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