Are you attempting to eat healthier but finding it challenging to convince your family to join you? If so, you are not by yourself.
There are several barriers that can prevent people from adopting healthy behaviours, from stress and hectic work schedules to financial limitations and limited food accessibility. Furthermore, it’s possible that relatives won’t always agree on what to eat.
It’s possible for parents who adhere to a specific diet to eat differently from the rest of the family. Those who are prone to temper tantrums may refuse to eat while crossing their arms. Teenagers might forgo the family meal in favour of a drive-through on their way home from school.
Getting your family on board with healthy behaviours may seem overwhelming, but it is feasible with a combination of thoughtful planning and a willingness to be adaptable.
8 Tips for Healthy eating as a Family
Let go of perfection
Despite what social media may have you believe, there’s no perfect way to eat healthier.
This means that your meals don’t have to be expensive, complicated, time-consuming, or picture perfect.
Instead, it’s important to be realistic and do the best you can to help your family make healthy choices.
Plus, by taking off the pressure to have a perfect diet, you’re more likely to find a healthier way of eating that works for your family.
Avoid designating foods as forbidden
Even if some foods are undoubtedly healthier than others, it’s crucial to promote a positive relationship with food by steering clear of terms like “bad” or “off-limits.”
Additionally, being overly restrictive might lead to anxiety and worry during mealtimes.
Instead, heed the following advice from nutritionist Aubrey Redd, MS, owner of Aubrey Redd Nutrition:
“Never consider any meal to be off-limits. When eaten in moderation, all foods can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Think about speaking in terms of “always” foods and “occasionally” foods. Snacks should always include fruits and vegetables; birthday cake is only appropriate on special occasions.
Make wellbeing the focus of good eating, not weight
Children shouldn’t be on diets, and talking about body image in front of them might result in disordered eating beliefs and habits.
Instead of discussing a food’s calorie or fat content, emphasise its advantages, such as how it tastes or the nutrients it offers.
In a similar vein, make it a point to talk to your children about appreciating and respecting your body. After all, hearing supportive remarks from parents can aid in establishing and maintaining a positive body image and sense of self in children.
Maintain a basic meal plan
Since you only need to go food shopping once or twice a week, meal planning is a terrific way to save time. It can be difficult to choose which dishes to prepare, though.
It’s okay to attempt a fancy new recipe you saw on Pinterest from time to time, but during the week it’s preferable to stick to easy meal plans.
In fact, certified dietitian Yaffi Lvova, owner of Baby Bloom Nutrition, advises staying away from “novel or sophisticated meals on busy days” and maintaining “two to three backup meals in the freezer or pantry in case of a breakdown in the day’s schedule.”
Keeping a piece of paper or a dry-erase board in the kitchen to compile a rolling list of meal suggestions that the entire family can add to is another way to make meal planning a collaborative activity.
Are you sick of preparing the same dishes every week? Review old cookbooks that may be collecting dust in the basement or attic and make a note of the recipes you want to make with your family.
Prioritize meal preparation
Lack of time to make home-cooked meals and snacks is one of the biggest obstacles I hear from families.
Setting aside an hour or two to prepare a batch of meals and snacks may seem like a significant time commitment, but you’ll find that it actually saves you time throughout the week.
Examining your schedule and marking off a certain time for meal preparation is the first step in making meal preparation a priority.
The 1-2-3 prep is something Edith Yang, RD, SR, CLT, a mother of two and owner of Healthy Mission Dietitian, suggests. Spend 1-2 hours one day preparing one simple protein, two fruits, and 2-4 vegetables.
In actuality, this might mean scheduling time on Sunday to prepare a huge fruit salad, a sheet pan of roasted zucchini and tomatoes, and a batch of oven-baked chicken breasts.
You don’t have to complete the assignment by yourself either.
Try allocating meal preparation duties among family members, or enlist the assistance of a friend or relative so that you may spend time with your children while you and your partner prepare a meal together.
To cut down on the time you spend cooking, think about getting an air fryer, slow cooker, or rice cooker.
A cooked rotisserie chicken, pre-cut fresh or frozen veggies, microwaveable whole grains, and other meal preparation shortcuts are also OK.
Without interruptions, having meals together as a family encourages healthy eating habits, fosters connection, and supports social and emotional growth.
Additionally, research demonstrates that children of families who have meals together typically consume more fruits and vegetables and less fast food.
Adults can also benefit from this. According to one study, parents who attend family dinners have higher self-esteem and reduced rates of stress and sadness.
Try to prioritise family dinners as much as you can, even though it might not be practical to eat together every night.
Incorporate more fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables
Adding more veggies to meals that your family already appreciates is one of the simplest methods to increase your intake of vegetables.
Set out a range of vegetable toppings, such as chopped peppers, mushrooms, spinach, artichokes, fresh tomatoes, and basil, for each member to utilise as pizza toppings, for instance, if Friday is pizza night.
You can simply make pizza night healthier without straying too far from your family’s culinary comfort zone by substituting vegetables for highly processed meats like sausage and pepperoni.
I add minced vegetables to dishes with ground beef, says Joby Neelankavil, RDN, who also offers another fantastic technique to include vegetables in meals. This divides the meat into multiple servings and adds fibre and nutrients.
If you have finicky eaters at home, this advice will be extremely beneficial.
Concerned about the price? There are numerous strategies to reduce the cost of vegetables.
For instance, seasonal veggies typically taste better and cost less than out-of-season options.
Another excellent choice is frozen vegetables, which are just as nutrient-dense as fresh vegetables but have a longer shelf life. Additionally, frozen vegetables are more affordable because they are purchased in bulk and cooked rapidly.
Finally, canned vegetables are also a nutritious option if you have limited access to fresh foods or are seeking another cost-effective option. Simply make sure to search for reduced sodium or no-salt-added choices.
Select the best vegetables for snacking
Convenience will probably prevail if you have to choose between chopping up some vegetables for a snack and grabbing a bag of chips.
Have washed and ready-to-eat options for vegetables in the refrigerator to encourage your family to snack on them. Simply cut the vegetables into sticks or strips and put them in transparent containers like mason jars to store.
In this manner, the vegetables are simple to see and simple to grab. For a complete snack, add a healthy dip like yoghurt, hummus, salsa, or hummus to the container of vegetables.
Before supper, Josten Fish, RD, a dietitian at Dietitian Meets Mom, particularly likes this advice because snacking on fresh vegetables is a healthy approach to curb your family hunger.
Eating healthy has various advantages for the entire family, even though it necessitates some trial and error.
Just keep in mind to be upbeat and promote better behaviours without imposing pressure or restrictions.
You’ll discover that it’s possible to develop a healthier eating plan that is both attainable and sustainable for your family by taking things one step at a time.
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