Eating healthily starts at home. It shouldn’t be Mom and Dad alone watching saturated fat, refined sugar and high sodium. The entire family will benefit from healthy changes in the kitchen. At Exercises for Injuries, we care about all of the people in your household. We want to encourage you to eat healthier as a family.
As such, we’ve got some tips and ideas to help you on your road to better health and wellness. Read on for 14 ways to eat healthier as a family.
1. Prep More Produce
Buying produce each week is good. Sometimes, however, the celery is pushed to the back of the refrigerator, underneath the cauliflower, and both are forgotten until they’re inedible.
Commit to buying a rainbow of organic fruits and vegetables at the market each week. Then, once you’re home, take the time to wash and cut the produce so that it gets used and eaten. This is one of the most helpful keys to eating more fruits and vegetables. Prep it right away when you get it home.
Often, I’ll happen upon an amazing price for organic peaches or berries at the right time of the season. Because I’m a sucker for a deal, I’ll buy up 20 pounds or more. Right when I get home, I’ll wash it and prepare it for eating. Some of it gets frozen, some of it will be put into snack bags for easy access, lots of it will sit out for hungry kids to devour and some goes into containers for refrigeration. Prepping the produce that I buy helps my whole family to eat more of it.
2. Incorporate Vegetables Into Every Meal
Think breakfast is about eggs, bacon, and toast only? Think again. You can get some vegetables in there too. Try chopped onions, spinach, and tomatoes in your scrambled eggs. Put avocado on your toast and get some kale or spinach into that smoothie.
The same goes for lunch and dinner. Make it a goal to have vegetables on every plate. Lettuce and tomato on the turkey sandwich added frozen vegetables to the boxed soup and veggies in the fried rice. Incorporating vegetables into every meal is an excellent way to ensure that the whole family is eating healthily.
3. Keep Produce on the Kitchen Table or Countertop
My kids are always hungry. It’s normal because they’re little bodies are growing as they sleep at night. They will stop into the kitchen around 4,500 times each day to get a snack. They also have a pre-breakfast snack, an after-dinner snack, and a snack before bed.
One of the best pieces of parenting advice I was ever given was to keep washed and cut production on the kitchen counters while I’m preparing meals. Hungry kids will wander into the kitchen when they smell food cooking. When dinner isn’t ready yet, and the easiest thing to grab is a handful of sliced apples or a few carrot sticks, they’ll eat it and come back for more.
4. Get a Spiralizer and Use It
I was recently given a cool blender, food processor and food spiralizer all-in-one unit. It was an exceptional gift. When I tried out the spiralizing functions, I was able to turn carrots and zucchini into amazing vegetable ribbons and thin, pasta-like strands.
My kids, one of which despises carrots, were watching in awe. They fought over the super fun to eat, spiralized carrots. One of their friends even asked for a serving to take home and share with his family.
Later, we turned the spiralized vegetables into pasta dishes. We also saved some to top salads and some to snack on. The spiralizer is a fun way for kids and adults to enjoy their vegetables in a whole new way.
5. Make Nutritious Ice Pops
In the summertime, ice pops are great for kids. However, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors are not. Buy a simple ice pop mold and pour some of your leftover fruit smoothies into it. In five or six hours, you’ve got some delicious ice pops for the whole family.
6. Create Guilt-free Desserts and Sweets
If your family loves dessert, consider making an extra special fruit salad a few times a week to serve after dinner. You can also make ice cream by blending up frozen bananas with creative mix-ins. Dessert doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Search our blog with the word “dessert.” We’ve got a bunch of guilt-free recipes for desserts and sweets.
7. Stop Buying Juice and Soda
Get into the habit of drinking water when you’re thirsty. If your family isn’t cool with plain old water, consider fruit-flavored, unsweetened carbonated water or seltzer. Stop buying juice. Never purchase soda. Drink for thirst, not for taste.
8. Prepare Easy Snacks
It’s super easy to buy the multipack of bagged chips at the supermarket, but we all know that those chips are full of straight-up garbage. It takes a bit more effort, but it’s worth it to bag up some ready-to-eat snacks yourself.
Air-pop some popped corn, let it cool and bag it up in snack-sized bags to stock in your pantry. Do the same with homemade trail mix and granola. For the snack drawer in the fridge, bag up some washed berries, sliced cucumbers and radishes. Boil and peel some eggs and keep them in the fridge too. You may receive some negative feedback at first. However, if you replace conventional snack foods with healthier ones, your family will eat them when they’re hungry enough.
9. Get Out of the Habit of Buying ‘Kid Food’
I have kids. I know what they like. They like toaster pastries and macaroni and cheese. They prefer dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets to real chicken. They want sugary cereal and ice cream bars. They have a taste for ‘kid food.’
It’s easy to give in and buy the yogurt with 35 grams of sugar per serving and a package of cheese puffs to keep the kids happy. Sadly, that kind of food won’t keep them healthy.
Go cold turkey on the kid food. Eliminate these kid favorites from your weekly shopping list. They won’t starve. We promise.
10. Stop. Buying. Junk. Food.
I’ve got a friend who has an overweight child. Sometimes, she tells me that even though the child is exercising, she is still overweight because she drinks so much soda, won’t touch any vegetables and eats junk food at home. However, the child is 10 years old. She doesn’t drive to the store and buys soda herself. The soda is purchased by the parent as are the candies, chips, freezer pops and sugar-laden cereal.
Well-intentioned, loving parents sometimes forget that they hold the grocery money. They own the grocery-getting station wagon, and they have the power to control the foods that come into their homes and is fed to their children.
Make a decision today to stop buying junk food. Leave the ice cream in the freezer case. Don’t even walk down the chip and cookie aisles. Shop the perimeter of the supermarket. Resist the bakery goods and the candy that’s so cleverly stocked at the checkout line. If you don’t buy junk food and bring it into your home, your family will not eat junk food at home.
11. Do the ‘New Food Challenge’
Challenges are so popular for kids and adults these days. The internet is full of ridiculous and silly challenges people like to get on video.
We’ve got a great challenge for your family to enjoy. It’s called the “New Food Challenge.” Make a list of foods that members of your family have never tried. If your kids haven’t tasted bok choy, starfruit or okra, put them on the list. Never had caviar, beef liver or oysters? Write them on the list. Make a big list of all the nutritious foods you’ve never tasted. This is your “new food” master list. Add to it as you learn about new things to try.
Each week, pick up something from the “new food” list at the market and bring it home. Designate one family member as the camera person and film each member of the family as he or she tries the new food item. One rule: each person must chew and swallow at least three bites of the food to complete the challenge.
Make a chart with each person’s name on it and list all the foods they have eaten successfully during the challenge.
12. Try Nutritious Foods in New Ways
One of my kids doesn’t care for cucumbers but will go to town eating organic pickles. A vegetable is a vegetable, and pickled foods are quite healthful. I regularly buy pickles for this child because it’s an excellent way for her to enjoy vegetables.
Carrots are also not my daughter’s favorite food. However, she’ll eat thinly sliced carrot sticks with hummus anytime. Neither of my children like eating green beans, but if I open a can of organic french-cut green beans, they will fight over them.
Sometimes, it’s all about the way it’s cut, the dip that is served or the presentation of the healthy food. Experiment with new ways to serve some of the healthy foods that your kids reject.
13. Give Your Junk Food a Healthy Upgrade
We love pizza night at our house. But we try to avoid dairy and white flour. We still enjoy pizza night, though. We use a healthier vegan cheese or no cheese at all. We slice up all sorts of vegetables for toppings like bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives, spinach leaves, broccoli, and jalapenos. We use whole-grain pitas as the crust. It’s a healthy upgrade for typically unhealthy food.
The same can be done for spaghetti, tacos, lasagna, fried chicken and other foods that are notoriously unhealthy. You can swap out white flour pasta for whole wheat, use organic corn tortillas instead of white flour ones, and bake your chicken with panko breadcrumbs on top instead of frying it. You don’t have to give up your family’s favorite foods to eat healthier at home.
14. Eat Out Better
Our family has found an amazing soup and salad bar that we love. They have an endless bar of fresh produce, prepared green salads and slaw to start. Then, in another part of the restaurant, they have excellent soups, a baked potato bar, and light desserts. We eat out about once a month and on special occasions. This is the place that our kids always request.
Seek out a restaurant that has healthier foods and things that your family will enjoy. That way, even when no one feels like cooking, you’ve got a good option for eating healthily away from home.
Eat Healthier as a Family
What we put into our bodies directly affects our overall health and nutrition. Your entire family will experience all sorts of positive benefits from eating healthier together. Do your very best to make sure that you and your loved ones are eating the healthiest foods available.