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Our Centsable Health section is full of resources on health topics, from diet and nutrition tips, to affordable and healthy recipes your whole family will enjoy. You’ll also find tips for developing healthy eating habits now and into the future! Browse our health articles for inspiration in the kitchen and get tips for making healthy eating fun for the whole family!

Family meal times matter, to children and adults. Here are some ways to enhance the quality of your family’s time around the table.

Family meal times matter, to children and adults. Studies show that positive mealtime experiences can lead to better communication, improved performance at school, enhanced reading levels, and better nutrition in children. Here are some ways to enhance the quality of your family’s time around the table.

Create a relaxed atmosphere for positive conversations

Quality conversations happen when mealtimes are as calm as possible with minimal distractions. Turn off the television, set aside cell phones and maybe play  nice background music if it is peaceful.  It is helpful to establish a few family ground rules, like no teasing, no rude comments, no interrupting. Listen thoughtfully to each opinion and help children learn to appreciate everyone’s input.

Focus on laughter and learning

Mealtimes are wonderful times to share funny stories and learn. Make a family commitment to focus only on positive topics before and during meals. The goal is to make mealtimes something to look forward to.

Respect and involve every family member

Even small children want to be a part of family mealtime conversations. Make a conscious effort to engage everyone. Be patient with those who take longer to express themselves and actively seek the opinions of those who are usually quiet. Sometimes it helps to go around the table and give each person a chance to talk.

Use conversation starters

Tired of conversations that fall flat after a minute or two? Try some of the questions and conversation starters below. You could even print them out and let family members draw their own card to discuss.

Table Conversation Starters for Tots
  • If you could have a super power, would you rather fly or be invisible? Why?

  • If our family could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would you like to have?

  • What is the nicest thing you did for someone today?

  • What is the nicest thing someone did for you today?

  • What foods on the table are crunchy? Chewy? Sweet? Spicy?

  • If you could be any kind of food, what would you like to be? Why?

  • What is one of your favorite colors? Do you see anything on the table in that color?

  • Is there a special book you would like to read after dinner?

  • What was the weather like outside today? What do you think it will be tomorrow?

  • Do you have a make believe store you would like to share with the family?

  • Would you like to help plan dinner for tomorrow?

  • What made you smile today?

  • Who did you sit next to at preschool today?

Table Conversation Starters for School Age Children
  • What makes someone a good friend?

  • What would you like to do if you were president?

  • What makes you different from the person sitting next to you? What makes you the same?

  • What is the hardest thing you did today?

  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

  • What are your favorite foods we make at home? What would you like to try?

  • What is your favorite sport to play? Why?

  • What is a job or profession that interests you?

  • What planet in the solar system would you like to visit? What do you think you would find there?

  • What is something that makes you afraid?

  • If you could change one thing that happened today, what would you change?

  • Who did you sit by at lunch today?

Table Conversation Starters for Adolescents
  • Share how your favorite team or player performed in a sport.

  • Describe something funny that happened to you today.

  • Describe something funny or silly that someone else did today?

  • Describe something you are planning to do in the future.

  • Describe something your family should do in the future.

  • Shasre the best new movie or TV show you have seen recently.

  • Describe a compliment you gave or received recently.

  • Describe a family tradition you really like and a new one you would like to add.

  • Name someone you admire and what it is about them that inspire you.

  • Name 2-3 of the most important people alive and why you chose them. 

 Wishing you many happy family meals in your future!

Caitlyn Ferin RD, LD

Caitlyn Ferin RD, LD

Registered Dietitian

Caitlyn graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Dietetics. She has worked in nutrition at Mid Iowa Community Action and as a clinical dietitian for the Iowa Veterans Home and Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center. Her goal is to help you and your family develop and maintain healthy lifestyles by sharing creative and practical nutrition tips.

Click here for more information on our dietitians.

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