Having a happy mealtime

MOMSEVERYDAY -- Dinner time is a stressful time of day for many families with parents coming home from work, kids coming home from school, and everybody hungry. New research suggests a positive attitude during mealtime could influence kids’ food choices, having an impact on health down the road.

Jaclyn Saltzman and her colleagues at the University of Illinois Family Resiliency Center studied the habits of 75 families with 3-year-olds. For almost two years, they videotaped mealtime visits and also used surveys to assess positive and negative emotions and interactions.

"Families that had a more positive mealtime emotional climate also had children who ate about one more serving of healthy food," Saltzman says.

She says parents can create a positive environment by involving kids in meal setup or preparation, by having a routine, and eating at the same time and place. They can help reduce stress by planning meals ahead of time and eliminating distractions.

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