Eat Together as a Family!

Did you know that eating frequent family meals together has been linked to youth being successful in school, including better grades and higher scores on achievement tests? You may have to work a little to get everyone together, but it is worth it, and the whole family will eat healthier! Below are a few strategies for eating together as a family:

Start eating meals together when your children are young. This way it becomes a habit. If you are not able to eat a meal together every day, set a goal. For instance, you could try having meals together as a family four times a week.

Plan when you will eat together as a family. Write it on your calendar. Family meals do not have to be held at the same time every day or even be the same meal every day. Time can be spent together at breakfast, lunch, dinner or even snack time! Most importantly, you are spending quality time together, and healthy food is part of it.

Offer a variety of healthy foods at family meal times. Do not lecture or force your child to eat. Let your child choose how much of each food he or she wants to eat. Avoid power struggles over what gets eaten, remember that mealtime is not a time for discipline and realize mealtime can be a good opportunity to model good manners.

Try a new food. Family meals are a great time to introduce new fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. As a family, you can all try something different! By providing healthy options and trying new foods, you will serve as a role model for your family.

Focus on the meal and each other. Turn off the TV, video games, and mobile phones.

Make family meals happy. Try to make meals a stress-free time. Get children talking! Talk about fun and happy things. A few conversation starters could include the following:

  • “What was the best thing that happened today?”
  • “What made you laugh today?”
  • “Tell me one thing you learned today.”

5210 Highlight – Mountain Home Air Force Base

5210 Healthy Military Children is thriving at Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB). Whether it is a 5210 focused one-on-one intervention with a Registered Dietitian or one of the many 5210 events that take place, Mountain Home AFB’s Health Promotion team is empowering parents and children to make slow and steady healthy choices over time.

This past summer, the Mountain Home AFB team hosted a Buddy Bison Bingo Challenge that focused on providing military families the opportunity to:

  1. Reduce screen time and increase physical activity by participating in activities on the base; and
  2. Encourage healthy eating habits.

Each child who participated received a National Park Trust Buddy Bison stuffed animal and a bingo card. The goal was to take Buddy Bison along on all summer adventures and official Force Support Squadron Buddy stop events to complete a bingo. Every child who returned a bingo card was entered into a raffle!

During the month-long event, Mountain Home AFB had 109 children register. The Health Promotion team also attended different base events to promote the 5210 Buddy Bison Bingo and 5210 principles. At the end of the program, 89% of families who completed a post-survey felt that the 5210 Buddy Bison Bingo Challenge helped their families to make healthy changes to their eating and physical activity habits.

At this time, 5210 Healthy Military Children opportunities are in full swing with offering 5210 outreach classes to the Child Development Center on base and a monthly Storytime at the local library promoting the 5210 principles.

With the excitement generated over this past year, the Health Promotion team is looking forward to additional exciting ways to promote 5210 Health Military Children in 2018 and continuing to empower families and children to make healthy choices.

5210 winners and their new bike

5210 winners and their new bike
Buddy Bison Bingo winners with their new bikes.

Cook Together as a Family!

Making meals as a family is a great way to spend time together, and children will learn about food and cooking! Many children enjoy helping in the kitchen. While they help you cook, you can talk to them about healthy foods. Children like to eat the foods they make. Cooking with your children is a good way to help them develop healthy eating habits and build food preparation skills!

Research has shown that children who help in the kitchen choose to eat more fruits and vegetables. Encourage your child to try some of the ingredients but do not force them. Being around and becoming more familiar with new ingredients will eventually help your child want to try new things!

Around 2 years old, children are ready to start helping with a few simple tasks. They will still need a lot of instruction and supervision, but they are likely to be very enthusiastic about helping!

Listed below are some appropriate kitchen tasks for children. Remember that children develop at their own rate, and they always need very close adult supervision. You must determine what is appropriate for your child.


  • Pour dry and liquid ingredients into a bowl
  • Stir ingredients
  • Tear lettuce and other greens
  • Peel fruits like oranges and bananas
  • Pull apart pieces of broccoli and cauliflower
  • Apply soft spreads, like peanut butter
  • Help put groceries away

Elementary school aged

  • Read recipes out loud together
  • Grate cheese with a box grater
  • Grease a baking pan
  • Scoop batter into muffin cups
  • Use a whisk
  • Load and unload the dishwasher
  • Set the table

Middle and high school aged

  • Safely use a chef’s knife
  • Learn how to operate kitchen appliances
  • Learn safety skills, such as tucking panhandles
  • Follow recipes on their own
  • Learn how to cook basic things, such as eggs