It has been said repeatedly that in order to form good eating and exercise habits that will a lifetime, good practices and techniques must be taught and learned at home. Use the following three strategies to help your family get more active and start choosing great-tasting, nutritious food instead of unhealthy, empty foods.
Bad Foods Shouldn’t Be Available
If you have the cupboards and fridge filled with unhealthy, bad foods then you and your family are much more likely to indulge in them versus ignoring the tasty temptations to eat a healthy snack instead. In order to get off the bad food cycle for the entire family at once, you have start at home. Pull out the paper bags and fill them up with the junk food to either toss out or give away. If you are going to have unhealthy foods in the house, then make sure they are just for special occasions or on a moderate basis (such as weekly). This will go towards preventing old habits from creeping their way back into your lives. Stock the fridge and shelves with healthy, nutritious choices that your family actually likes and will eat. Reduced-fat dairy, lean proteins, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, oatmeal, and natural smoothies are all great choices to please your family’s taste buds.
Put New Spins on Family Favorites & Eat Dinner as a Family
The best way to get your kids to explore their taste buds and try new foods is to eat dinner as a family. Put new spins on the foods your family loves that aren’t so healthy. For instance, bake French fries instead of frying or introduce baked sweet potato fries to the table. Use ground turkey for taco night. Get reduced-fat mozzarella cheese and pita bread for pizza night. Bake chicken fingers at home instead of buying the same ‘ole processed or fried chicken nuggets. When in the grocery store, have everyone pick out their favorite fruits and veggies they can’t wait to eat. Get the kids involved, and have them help make and cook the foods they are going to eat for dinner. The fun and pride of cooking makes them extremely excited and motivated to want to taste the foods they just helped to create.
Cut Down & Control Snacking
Kids and adults alike find themselves snacking through the day and then not eating a proper meal when it is time to sit down for lunch and dinner. Being less hungry also leads to kids being less willing to taste new foods, get proper nutrition and eat their vegetables. Set guidelines for snacking in your home and try to stick to a consistent schedule for meals to ensure better habits. Space all meals and snacks at least two hours apart. Don’t eat more than 2-3 snacks a day. Control portion sizes for everyone in the family and make sure most all snacks are no more than about 150 calories each. Air-popped popcorn, apple slices and peanut butter, healthy homemade trail mix, and low-fat organic Greek yogurt with fruit are all great options for snack time at home or on the go that will satisfy everyone’s sweet and salty cravings in a healthy way! For a frozen and healthy treat your family will love, pour your yogurt blends and fruit into Popsicle molds and put in the freezer.
Now is the time to get your family on the right track when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. While more and more people are screaming for healthier options, we still live in a culture obsessed with convenient and processed fake food options to satisfy our hunger pangs and sweet tooth. Explore how delicious real food can be right now and have the kids help to layout a menu of healthy meals they want to cook and eat for lunches and dinners. Don’t be surprised when the kids grow accustomed to the new routine before you do as they are much more likely to get on board if they are involved in the process and decisions along the way. Come up with activities and outings that focus on the family moving and having fun together rather than only having family time with everyone plopped on a couch or in a theater seat. Your family will reap the rewards and benefits of a healthy lifestyle starting at home faster than you can ever imagine once you get started.