Thoughtful Parenting: Making meals a family affair |

Thoughtful Parenting: Making meals a family affair

Barb Parnell / For the Steamboat Today

One of the most effective ways to promote a healthy lifestyle and behaviors for children is to adopt healthier habits as a family. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "families have a critical role in influencing children's health, and health is a real characteristic of the family lifestyle." Children who eat healthy and have an active lifestyle are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, have better self-esteem, sleep better, do better academically and avoid health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.

LiveWell Northwest Colorado introduced the Let's Go! 5-2-1-0 campaign to the community last year. The campaign emphasizes eating five or more fruits and vegetables each day; spending two hours or fewer of recreational TV/computer/phone screen time; having one hour or more of physical activity; and drinking no sugary drinks.

Through use of the Let's Go! 5-2-1-0 framework, parents can create a healthier home environment. Each month, this series will introduce one component of the campaign to help you and your family live a healthier life.

Tip 1: A meal is a family affair.

In such a busy world, meals often revolve around our lifestyles. We often miss meals or eat foods that are not as healthy. Experts have found that children who eat regularly with their families are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. No matter how busy life may seem, it is important to make at least one meal each day a family priority.

Making meal time a family affair:

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■ Choose a time when everyone can enjoy a meal around the table every day.

■ As the parent, you can decide what time meals are served and what the choices are. Your children then can decide what to eat and how much.

■ Turn off the TV during meals.

■ Include your children in preparing the meal.

■ Keep conversation positive and interesting.

■ Limit eating and drinking unhealthy snacks between meals.

■ Help you child learn good manners and mealtime behaviors.

Remember: You model the habits you want your children to develop around healthy eating and active living. Begin by teaching your child what Let's Go! 5-2-1-0 means. For more information about Let's Go! 5-2-1-0, visit

Barb Parnell is the LiveWell Northwest Colorado community coordinator. She can be reached at

At a glance

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0:

■ 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables

■ 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time

■ 1 or more hours of physical activity

■ 0 sugary drinks

Source: LiveWell Northwest Colorado