Parents worry about lots of things, and food is often on the top of the “worry” list.  You can make mealtime less stressful by following the suggestions below.   Try them and let me know how they work in your home.

The Placemat Rule

If you worry your child is eating out of boredom create the rule that meals and snacks are eaten only on a placemat  – I literally call this my “placemat rule” . Kids easily understand the placemat rule- not only does it keep the house clean, it naturally helps with portion control, and it gets you out of the role of being the food police. Children allowed to eat in front of the TV or computer or their room eat mindlessly; they make bad choices, are not well nourished and they are more likely to be lonely and feel isolated.

Dr Wansink’s Ten Tips To Help Kids Discover the

Wonder of Vegetables

What if you could use the same “marketing” techniques to sell your kids on trying new fruits and vegetables?    You can, with these ten tips  developed by food psychologist, Dr Brian Wansink Wansinks 10 Tips  .

Smart Parents Don’t Get in Food Fights

Resist telling your child to eat more or less at meals or snacks.  Pressuring kids to eat a particular food makes them eat less of the food being pushed on them,  and restricting a food can actually make that food more desirable.

  •  Let kids eat as much or as little as they want as long as it is at the table and the plate includes a little bit of everything. Healthy children are perfectly designed to know how much to eat. Read more about Portions.
  • You can and should discuss manners and good behavior at the table but save discussions about who is eating what and how much for another time.
  • If you want your child to try new fruits and vegetables or eat less dessert  talk to them when it is not mealtime and tell them why it is important to you. Then create an environment where they can be successful.
  •  Read Smart Parents Don’t Have Food Fights for additional ideas on making mealtime easier.


Smart Snacks and Desserts

I recommend three planned meals for you and children too.  I tell adults to  fill half their plate with vegetables, but that might be too much for young children so instead serve at least one serving of fruit or vegetable or both at every meal and most snacks.  A serving is about one to two  tablespoons for each year of life. At snack time, serve any “wet” snack your kids like and keep portions of carbs or  “dry”  food to one serving- the serving is the portion listed on the nutrition label. Here is a list of  25 Snack Ideas for Kids to get some ideas on snacks that will be good for your child.

Make a rule about desserts. I have no problem with dessert for kids if it is a child-sized portion ( 100-150 calories) . Cheesecake,  frosted cake, giant  chocolate chip cookies and giant cupcakes  are to be served only on special occasions- this is the same advice for adults too so there is no mixed message about who gets to eat what.

Plan a FTLOF Meal

Ask your children  to plan a FTLOF meal. First, view the film on the home page or at Youtube   then plan the meal.  A FTLOF meal consists of vegetable-based appetizers, half the plate is to be filled with vegetables and dessert should be fruit based.

You can even send out an Invitation

Have fun and please share the results and response with us.


The For the Love of Food Project (FLOF) can support your nutrition, health or science curriculum. First view the film on the home page or go to Youtube:for the love of food .  Ask your students to plan a FLOF meal in the classroom, at a PTO gathering, the school cafeteria or for their families at home. A FLOF meal consists of vegetable based appetizers, half the plate is to be filled with vegetables and dessert should be fruit based. To learn about local food ask students to use as many foods from local sources as possible and to learn about family heritage encourage the use of family-favorite recipes.

Here is a  Handout  with activities and simple recipes to use with young children.

Have fun and please share the results and response with us.

Have fun