Healthy eating is hard when you’re feeding a family or trying to convince younger kids, especially, to eat their fruits, veggies, and other healthy alternatives. Start by implementing healthy options slowly to avoid overwhelming the family. By introducing these new healthy options slowly, it doesn’t feel like a drastic change in the family and will hopefully create less push back.
BENEFITS OF EATING HEALTHY
Explain to your family the benefits of eating healthy and keep reminding them of it. Eating healthy and physical activity combined helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Starting these habits early for you and your children is important, so they know the consequences. Teaching them these things will help them learn healthy coping mechanisms and know what to reach for when they are faced with different options down the road. Eating healthy is also better for the health of your mouth.
SET THE EXAMPLE
Setting the example is going to be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. If your family sees you eating things that aren’t healthy or fit into the new lifestyle you and your family are working towards, they will lose motivation. Start by making small changes so that you don’t feel tempted to go against what you’re trying to teach and learn with your family.
MAKE A MEAL PLAN TO STICK TO
If you have a meal plan that everyone is aware of and you have gone grocery shopping for it, you are less inclined to bail on the planned dinner for something quick and easy at a restaurant that might not be as healthy. Creating a meal plan as a family can bond the family and allows for everyone to give input on what the family can make and eat together. This also makes it possible that if you or your spouse are running late coming home from work, if you have old enough children at home, they can begin prepping the meal for the family. This also teaches responsibility for when they are on their own and even for just when they are a little older.
FIND NEW RECIPES
Finding new recipes is so easy in today’s world with such accessible access to everything on the internet. There are so many different options for gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan eaters that you can even alter certain recipes for what your family enjoys and doesn’t enjoy eating. If you’ve found a great vegan fettucini alfredo recipe, but your family is wanting to add additional proteins and don’t have any dietary restrictions, you can teach your family how to modify a recipe, and you can add a protein to your pasta. If you have younger ones, you can look online to see how people hide vegetables in their kids’ meals without them knowing if they are picky eaters. Find out some of your family’s favorite meals and see how you can make them healthier if necessary to enjoy together.
INVOLVE THE FAMILY IN GROCERY SHOPPING
Going grocery shopping together allows for more time to be spent as a family while also talking about what ingredients can go with what meals on your meal plan. You can teach your family that adding one spice can make it taste one way while adding another similar spice could totally change the flavor. While grocery shopping, you can also teach your family how to shop for produce, what to look for when looking at the price, and if there are certain things you prefer one brand over another and why. While out together is a perfect opportunity to have everyone pick a healthy treat option that they would eat. Showing everybody different options of snacks that are still snacks but maybe just a little bit better for you than other options will show them that eating healthy has to mean no snacking. Healthy snacks are an excellent option for in-between meals to avoid overeating. Teaching your family these tools earlier will help them once they receive their own money eventually and especially when they’ve grown up and headed to college.
Eating together as a family not only has many known benefits, but it will be something that everyone will remember for years to come. Studies show that families who frequently eat dinner together eat healthier, have better grades, and have reduced stress levels. Eating together opens the conversation with the family and allows a chance for everyone to talk about their days in and out of the home.
Various studies show that being able to have dinner and make these conversations with your kids keeps them out of trouble and lets them know you are aware of the circumstances and are more likely to come to their parents for help. Eating together helps create these healthy habits that will last a lifetime for your family. Start by making a goal of eating together as a family just a couple times a week, so you don’t feel like a failure if a sport or extracurriculars getting in the way, and it disables you from having dinner together every night.
Changing the way you eat as a family doesn’t have to be a large drastic change, by making small changed with your family will help set the stage for healthy habits down the road. Being able to include your family in the planning process, in the grocery shopping, and cooking the meal will allow more time to be spent together. Starting healthy habits early is more likely to become lasting habits.