Avoiding Family Meal Food Fights

September 14, 2018
| Created by Genevieve Daly, RDN, CD

Love your family but hate the constant arguing at the dinner table? It's time to end family meal food fights. Here are some ideas on how to make mealtime a calmer, more positive experience for everyone in the family.

Don’t force anyone to eat

Some of us have grown up with the rule of always finishing our plate, so this may be a hard habit to break. Although there may be good intentions behind pressuring your children to try new foods and finish their vegetables, it’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with food. Stick to making healthy food available to your family and allow everyone to decide what and how much they would like to eat. Setting an example for the rest of your family by eating healthy foods is much more effective than making it a mandatory part of dinner.

Keep family meals relaxed

Whether it’s a large family gathering or a weeknight dinner, it’s important to keep distractions at bay and converse with each other. Turn off electronics and encourage conversation among family members. Keep controversial topics away from the table and instead focus on meaningful conversations about each other’s days. Look for dietitian Julie's upcoming tip on conversation topics here on the blog.

Teach proper manners

Meal times are a great opportunity to teach new skills and table manner. Start teaching good manners at a young age to help form it into a habit for your children.  Help them learn proper etiquette, polite behavior, and good manners to ensure your children are courteous both at home and when in public. Help them learn how to set a table and properly use silverware, how to be sensitive and aware of other people’s feelings, and help them learn social graces such as when to say "excuse me" and "thank you."

Plan your menu together

An easy way to avoid complaints about food is to allow family members the chance to plan out the menu together. Getting everyone involved in the planning and cooking process leaves less room for complaints about food and more room for meaningful conversation. Involving your children in the cooking process can also make them feel more comfortable with the food and end up reducing food aversions- it’s a win-win!