Eating healthy can be a full-time struggle. Parents especially are more likely to pull double-duty trying to keep the kids and spouse eating healthy foods consistently. It's not easy, either, with conflicting and hectic schedules, less time to prepare meals, portion sizes that are out of control and a proclivity for junk food, eating healthy can seem almost impossible!
But there are a few easy tricks that families can do to establish and keep good eating habits at home that will stick. For healthier habits, look no further than the kitchen. There are little tricks — slight alterations to the daily household routine — that can make a world of difference in establishing and sticking to healthy eating habits. Let's look at some of the strategies that we can use to make our homes a better place to succeed in eating more of the good and less of the bad.
Plan out your meals and grocery shop in advance
Menu planning not only helps us eat healthier but also saves money. That sounds pretty great to us. We live in a crazy-busy world where it's more likely that waiting until 5 p.m. to think about what to do for dinner will yield an unhealthy, large-portioned fast-food meal than something nutritious. Do that multiple times in a week and you have a health problem on your hands.
Planning meals in advanced allows you the time to look for healthy recipes; helps you make specific grocery purchases with less room for junk; saves money; and makes it more likely that you'll consume a variety of healthy foods, making it less likely that you'll get bored with your meals.
Eat as a family around a table
In addition, if a meal is already planned, it's more likely that you can also make the effort to carve out some dinner time and get all of the family members to consume it together. Planning fun meals — such as building your own salad or homemade pizza — could make it something fun that family members will look forward to. Click here for some recipe ideas!
Likewise, research shows that when we eat as a family around the dinner table about five nights a week, there are wonderful effects on emotional and mental health. Children are less likely to smoke, drink or do drugs, among other negative behaviors.
Read labels and teach your children to do the same
Let's face it, there will come a time when the family can't be together for meals or grocery shopping must be done alone, so how do we keep those healthy habits going? Teach them how to read the labels on food items. Just as teaching kids that a hot stove will burn them, learning about nutrition makes us more aware of what and how much we're putting into our bodies. The more our family knows about nutritional facts, the more likely they'll read the labels and make better decisions. Just be sure to give them a balanced education on nutrition to avoid giving them anxiety about healthy eating, or worse, an eating disorder.
Strategically place healthier items in view
We've all been there. We're bored, so we mindlessly open the refrigerator or pantry in search of something to excite us. Unfortunately, most of those foods that really get our motors running are processed and packed with salt, sugar and fat. An opposite scenario is when we're running here, there and everywhere, and we grab the first food in sight. Again, most often it's something that we can consume on the go, such as Uncrustables, Lunchables or other processed, pre-packaged foods.
Keeping a bowl of fruit on the counter and prepared healthy dishes front and center in the refrigerator will help deter you from making those mindless, on-the-run food decisions. Placing these items in prominent areas of the kitchen will catch the eye easier than if they sit in a produce drawer. For some healthy snack options, click here.
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