I don’t have a family, but I’m more than a little concerned about how my eating habits will change when I do. How will I keep my kids healthy without stressing myself out? How will I stay healthy? How will I help give them a healthy attitude to food?
I’ve got a while to go before I really need to worry about all this, but I did a little research to find out what you can do if you’re trying to keep your family healthy without losing your sanity.
This is a known trick. We go for what we see. And it isn’t just true of food at home but food in stores, you’ll always find the product being promoted at eye-level because you notice it first.
At home, keep fruit out in a basket on the counter, keep vegetables in the fridge at eye-level, and store healthy snacks like fruit and nut bars on the middle shelf in the pantry – that way when you get hungry you’ll go for the first thing you see, and so will your family.
Grocery stores are genius. They have this way of organizing everything so that even if you walk in with the aim of buying milk, you somehow leave with five other things.
Skip the hassle and temptation of the store and shop online. Your kids won’t be asking about a million other things they see in-store, you’ll save money because you’ll only be buying what you need, and you’ll have fewer unhealthy foods at home.
If you have super picky eaters, throw small handfuls of the no-no fruits and vegetables into yummy smoothies – they won’t even know what they’re drinking!
If your goal is to go from being a family whose staples are chocolate bars and chips, to being a family who bonds around homemade popcorn, resist the urge to ban things outright.
Instead, try small swaps. Say things like, ‘I thought we could try X tonight.’ And when the kids are tasting it, ask, ‘What do you think? Is it yummy?’ Try to avoid comparing it to whatever it is substituting so that they can evaluate it in its own right.
If you’re willing to get creative, you can also do things like swapping out store-bought sauces for homemade ones – this allows you to monitor the salt and sugar content and use natural flavorings like lemon and herbs, rather than unpronounceable name ingredients found in sauces.
Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you do this every day or even every meal, maybe once a week. Kids are more likely to want to try something they helped make, so if you get them making their own date and nut balls, it’ll be pretty easy to get them to eat them.
Eat together and eat the same food. Kids want to be treated like adults (at least they think they do) and they’re just as capable as you are of eating what you give them. Eat at the table, eat the same food, and make it a time to bond and catch up.
I have realized that buying a full pint of Ben & Jerry’s is not a good idea, at least for me. I’m probably not the only one either. Where you can, buy the single-serving versions of snack foods at home. This helps to guide you and your family to eat the recommended serving size and no more.
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