There is not a mom I’ve met who does not want her family to be healthy. As a registered dietitian and mom, I am sharing a few of my favorite lifestyle tips that help set the foundation for a healthier family.
People who eat a healthy breakfast (blueberry donuts do not count!) are more mentally alert, perform better at work, at school, and on the field and have an easier time managing their weight than non-breakfast eaters. Breakfast is an excellent time to start the day with a nutrient-packed power meal by consuming fresh fruit and vegetables along with fiber packed complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and monounsaturated fats. Breakfast is especially critical for children and adolescents, therefore, it is important to start early creating the habit of eating a healthy breakfast.
Prepare meals in advance.
Life is busy, and few families have the luxury of being spontaneous during the work and school week to figure out “What’s for dinner,” shop for the necessary ingredients, and then cook the meal. Spend a little time over the weekend prepping food for the week, and I can almost guarantee your week will run a whole lot smoother! Create a system that works for you. Example:
- Monday: Meatless Monday vegetarian dish
- Tuesday: Poultry or fish night
- Wednesday: Soup or chili
- Thursday: Leftover night!
- Friday: Make it easy and fun – homemade pizza, tacos, or breakfast for dinner
Set a regular grocery date.
One of the biggest challenges busy families face when it comes to mealtime is not having the right ingredients on hand to whip up a quick and healthy meal. This usually results in the need to head to the nearest fast food pick-up joint for a quick meal – and usually a not-so-healthy meal. A regular grocery date will help ensure your fridge will always be stocked with healthy food for those very hectic days. Remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself – divide and conquer! Be sure to enlist the help of your partner to tackle the grocery store if needed.
Involve the whole family in meal planning.
Get the family involved in weekly meal planning, have your kids pick out a new recipe each week and ask your husband to take over a few meals week. Involving the whole family at an early age helps create the habit of prioritizing advanced meal planning. This also helps to reduce the “I do not like this!” tantrums and to increase the overall nutrient profile and variety of foods served because everyone has a chance to give their input. Download the Eat Fit app to find new recipes that the whole family will enjoy!
Creating the habit of eating together at the table sets the foundation for many healthy habits. In today’s fast-paced busy world, it can be hard to sit down, slow down, eat, and enjoy a meal together. But this is one old fashioned habit that should be reestablished as a regular part of your routine. Eating together helps people connect and share what is going on in their lives. It helps you relax, unwind, and create memories. Eating at the table also helps create the habit of mindful eating. When the TV is turned off and external distractions are put on mute (i.e. telephone, email, and text alerts), people are better able to pay attention to their internal hunger and fullness cues, helping to prevent mindless eating and overeating.
Offer more fruits and vegetables.
We’ve all heard the saying “Eat more fruits and vegetables!” but the reality is, as a society, we are accustomed to snacks coming in fancy pre-packed containers. Unfortunately, our children are learning that “snacks” come from a box and not from Mother Earth; this is setting unhealthy habits from the start. We have the power to transform children’s snack habits by simply having more fruits and vegetables readily available on a regular basis. Children learn what they live, so if fruit and vegetables are served as snacks when they’re young, children will grow into adolescents and adults snacking on more fruits and vegetables.
Make water the go-to beverage.
Creating the habit of drinking more water is a simple but very important one. Here are some ways to increase your overall water intake and make it a family habit:
- Drink a glass of water first thing when waking up–even before breakfast!
- Serve water with meals.
- Keep homemade fruit-flavored water in the fridge. (You can make this by placing fresh fruit slices in a pitcher of water and letting it sit overnight.)
- Have everyone carry a water bottle.
- Dining out? Create the family habit of ordering water!