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We Challenged 4 Families to Try Family Style Dining for 3 Weeks....What Happened

When we last left off with our four families, they were approaching the final week of our "One Small Change, Big Results Meal Time" challenge. Some families stuck exactly to the advice we gave, and some modified the guidance to better fit their family and their dinner time routine. So now that the challenge is over, what stuck and what did not? We asked our challengers to sum up what aspects of the family style plan they liked, and will keep, and areas where they still need to work on.

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Across the board, the families stated that:

  • The kids all enjoyed having some control over what and how much they were eating at dinner. Whether it was having the responsibility of passing the bowl to the next person at the table, pouring themselves a glass of water or scooping the vegetables onto their plates, the participants commented over all their child(ren) enjoyed the process of being involved in dinner

  • Participants noticed an uptick in the amount of fruit and vegetables their children were willing to try. One participant noted that “my son would put a small scoop of everything at the table on their plate, even items I have noticed he normally would refuse.” While not all the participant’s children would eat full servings of the vegetables or fruits offered, they were willing to try.

  • Clean up and more dishes were a problem initially, but working the new style into their routine provided family help and extra time spent together.

Some other interesting findings were:

  • “Dessert is no longer something that the kids will hold out for ever since we started serving it at the same time as dinner. The kids will now eat their portion, but are not begging for something sweet after the meal which was a pleasant surprise!”

  • “We talk a lot about what snacks my son will bring to school. I think he could cut a lot of it up on his own, but he's usually eating breakfast while I'm getting it ready. We talk a lot about what, how much and in which container. Not exactly the same as self-service, but I think he's highly involved and usually eats what we pick out. Mostly fruit, some crackers with guacamole, some carrots.”

  • “I think that family style eating is an effective way to teach my kids how to listen to their own bodies and fullness cues so they won’t have the same struggles (as my husband does with food now).”

Out of the four families we worked with for this challenge, all four mentioned that they would stick with some aspect of family style dining, and saw that overall they were having an easier dinner time with more time spent together as a family.

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