Four dad dietitians give advice on family meals

Fathers have an enormous impact on their children’s food choices. So I reached out to four experts, dads who are registered dietitian nutritionists, to find out how they do it.

Rick Hall’s Top Three Tips

  1. My kids are not allowed to claim that they don’t like a food
    until they’ve tried it and they have to try it every time we have
  2. Don’t overeat. When our kids say “my tummy is full,” they are
    allowed to be done.
  3. Drink water. They’ve always known that soda isn’t an option,
    despite what “all of the other kids do.”

“I make them think twice about how much they are eating; asking if they are eating because they are hungry or bored and making sure they get in as many fruits and veggies as possible,” says David Grotto, RDN, author of The Best Things You Can Eat and the father of three teen girls.

Rick Hall, MS, RDN, senior lecturer of nutrition at Arizona State University and the father of three elementary school-aged children, focuses on moderation and variety. “We never force them to eat foods they don’t want to.”

“They have to try everything and if they don’t like it, it’s called a `no thank you’ bite. They eat what we’re eating. We’re not short order cooks,” says Chris Mohr, PhD, RDN of and the father of a preschooler and a toddler.

D. Milton Stokes, PhD, MPH, RDN, assistant professor of Nutrition at University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut, had to learn to tolerate messiness as a father of two toddlers. “It’s especially true for meal times, and that’s fine because kids need to feel food, play with food and spit out food.”

Value of family meals

With everyone’s schedules, eating together as a family every day is very hard to accomplish, Grotto says.

“We find that we enjoy the eating experience much more when we can eat together and often have our most deep and meaningful conversations at that time.”

Hall’s family eats together at least once a day. “Meal time is an opportunity to sit as a family with no distractions.

“We do not allow books or computer devices at the table. Meal time is an opportunity to connect.”

Stokes likes to offer a snack while putting the main dinner together.

“For pre-dinner snacks, my daughter’s really into diced pears and baby carrots. My son is into kiwifruit.”

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