10 Ways to Encourage Your Family to Eat Healthy
Getting your family to eat healthy can be challenging. Here are seven simple tips that will help you and your family adopt sustainable healthy eating habits.
- Educate your family. Explain all the benefits of healthy eating – better digestion, lower body weight, increased stamina, clearer skin (especially important to teens), and healthy brain function for optimal academic performance. Teach them how to read labels so they can see for themselves how many chemicals and preservatives are actually found in packaged foods.
- Eat breakfast. It’s a fact that children who eat breakfast do better in school. Set the alarm a few minutes early and prepare a simple, yet wholesome breakfast of oatmeal, fruit and whole grain toast.
- Don’t bring junk food into the house. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. Keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand like nuts, fruit, celery sticks, granola bars, whole grain crackers, low-fat cheese and yogurt.
- Eat fruit or veggies at every meal. Include at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable at each meal. Allow your child to select which fruits they want so they feel involved. You can also sneak in more vegetables by adding them to your child’s favorite foods. For example, add broccoli to pizza or zucchini to lasagna.
- Have dinner as a family. With all the extracurricular activities it can be challenging to eat as a family. Several times a week carve out at least 30 minutes for the family to sit together without TV, cell phones or other distractions.
- Lead by example. If you’re eating chocolate cake while insisting your children eat carrot sticks, you’re sending the wrong message. Children learn by example. When you eat the foods that you want them to eat, your example will have a powerful impact on their choices. Keep a healthy diet of low sodium and no added sugars, cholesterol or saturated fats.
- Give kids a choice. Involve them in the process of planning the meals, purchasing the ingredients, and preparing the meal. Children are often more willing to try foods they’ve helped select.
- Don’t use food as a reward. Using sweets or junk food as a reward for good behavior or as a mood pick-me-up starts a bad habit that can lead to emotional eating as an adult. Emotional eating is a leading cause of obesity.
- Pack school lunches. Home-prepared foods are typically healthier than those prepared by institutions. Focus on low-fat options like turkey sandwiches on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato and sides of fresh fruit. So that they don’t feel completely deprived, allow then one day each week to buy school lunch.
- Plan and prep ahead. If you stay on top of grocery shopping, and wash and prep the fruit and veggies when you bring groceries home, you will have healthy and readily available snacks, which helps to avoid fast food drive throughs and vending machines. Let your kids help to choose the healthy foods that they like best by including them in your shopping.