5. Encourage Kids to Prepare Meals

Prepare Meals

If you are a parent of a small child, you should try this. Simply get your little one to peel a couple of oranges and have them serve them to others at dinner. Your child will most likely consider it an important job, and see the peeled oranges as the central part of the entire meal! The Japanese understand this truth. Therefore, they make it a point to home-cook at least one meal, typically dinner, every day.

Children are also tasked with preparing one key ingredient of the entire meal, like salad, or a fruit-based dessert. In fact, almost every member contributes in some way. This way, the child actively participates in the preparation of wholesome meals. The child also feels that he or she is a significant part of the family, and their ideas, likes and contributions are acknowledged and honored by the rest of the family.

4. Honor with “Itadakimasu”

Itadakimasu

This mouthful of Japanese literally means, “I receive this with humility”. This is said before every meal, and forms the central theme of the meal. Picky eaters beware, as no food-related tantrums are tolerated at the dinner table (by children or adults!). Children are thus taught early on to respect food and avoid wastage. This is also an excellent theme that will help you be the boss without turning into an anti-hero.

Teach them to embrace your one unconditional rule – to say “Itadakimasu” to anything home-cooked over anything that is not.

Do your children hate your suggestions of intermittently replacing meat with tofu? Just gently place the cleverly cooked tofu at the table, and “Itadakimasu”. Does your family resist your choice of fruit over a fatty pie? Bring the cut fruit to the table, and “Itadakimasu”. You will soon discover that this principle works like magic in your home.

3. Embrace the New

Embrace

It is a universal truth that children get easily bored. So if you plan to serve the same two or three salads or casseroles every other meal, prepare for a serious rebellion at your dinner table! Vary your dinner options, and be open to suggestions from every participant at the dinner table. In fact, you can even go all out and consider your children the VIP members at the table.

This means that you should be open to honoring their suggestions (at least a few times a month) before you push your own nourishing food choices on others. Yes, you will occasionally need to honor their request for fatty, meaty pizza. This also comes with good news.

Related: Choose These 10 Fresh Foods Over Frozen

Children have relatively short attention spans. So if they “reject” one of your more healthy suggestions a few times, don’t feel disheartened. Re-introducing them gently without pressure can eventually get your children to embrace your choice of healthy meals. As the Japanese often say, “Embracing all things new, especially foods, elongates your life!”

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