It’s one thing to know you should eat healthy foods.
It’s another thing to figure out how to make healthy eating part of your life, especially when you’ve got kids.
But as hard as it is to envision switching your children (and you) to better foods from the ones they are used to, the sooner you make the switch the better. As we adults know all too well, lifelong habits are extremely hard to change.
And truth be told, there are more resources at your fingertips (literally) than ever before. There are several excellent websites for learning about food and making healthy food fit easily into your life.
Not to mention all the healthy options available at the store and online through web-based grocers like Amazon.com.
So take a deep breath and then commit to making the switch for your whole family . . .
And just start now!
Oh yeah, and here’s a few tips to make it easier:
1. Savor your healthy food and notice how it makes you feel afterwards. When you offer your child a peach, sit with her and slurp through one together. Remark on the sweetness and flavor. And note how it makes you feel afterwards. Do you feel clean and refreshed? Energized? Is your stomach feeling okay?
And notice the effects over time, too. Your skin and hair will start to look different. Your energy will pick up and you’ll probably sleep better too.
2. By the same token, take note after you eat something that’s junky, (which is okay to do now and then). Does it make your mouth feel kind of sharp and bitter after a bit, like you need something fresh to wash it down? Do you feel like just zoning out in front of the tv? Do you start to feel irritable and grumpy? Connect your mind with how your body is feeling after taking this empty food in.
3. Make healthy snacks available, and unhealthy snacks unavailable. Clean out your stashes of cookies. And replace them with healthy pretzels, fruit, veggies, dips and nuts. I’ll be reviewing and posting recipes of some of our favorites over time. (And please, send in your suggestions/reviews along as well to share!)
4. Along the same lines, keep it simple. Just like simple fitness fits better into your family life, simple eating works better too. You may want to experiment with elaborate preparations, but also go with the basics. Fresh fruit. A carrot washed and unpeeled (with organic, there’s no need!). Easy humus. Lightly toasted peanuts or almonds in a jar. Some whole grain bread with a little butter. Toss a smoothie together, throw a quick salad together. I’m no gourmet – although I love to read about it. I don’t have time.
Replace some of the junkier prepared foods with healthier ones. We often turn to frozen chicken and vegetable potstickers in a pinch or whole wheat breaded chicken nuggets. And Larabars have become one of our favorite snack bars.
5. Get involved and get your kids involved with food at its source. I remember how amazed one of my friends was when her toddler kept munching down the string beans he had picked in my garden. "He never eats vegetables," she declared. But when he actually got to pick some Dragon Tongue Beans off the vine, those beans had a whole different meaning to him – he had picked them himself! Not to mention that food just tastes completely different when it’s fresh.
Plant a garden, go to a farmer’s market. Pick your own fruit.
6. Get your kids involved with food prep. For a couple lunchtimes in a row, when told about lunch options, my daughter whined, "There’s nothing good!" When it was clear I wasn’t going to jump into the car and head to the supermarket, she took things into her own hands. Soon my writing was interrupted with samples of two different salad dressings she had invented. By lunchtime the table was set with a soup, salads, and fruit salad with a special lime-yogurt dressing that she and her brother had put together. They were thrilled with the food they had discovered.
I don’t do it as much as I should, but we also set aside nights to make homemade pizza, California rolls or other easy to assemble meals. The pride of making it themselves is one of the best ingredients you can add to a healthy meal.
Have courage, over time taste buds shift. And even egg you along! My kids used to eat donuts, now they can’t stand them – "They’re too sweet!" And my son, when debating over which food to choose, often asks me which food is healthier in order to make the final choice.
It’s gone so far, in fact, that two mothers from his 3rd grade class reported to me that their kids bring their lunches to my son in order to get a "authoritative" review on what’s healthy and what’s not!
Who would have thunk it!