Wednesday, January 21, 2015
3 Tips to Making Healthy Eating Work When You Have Kids at Home
As a mom of two little kids, the tactics I use to make healthy eating happen on a daily basis from week to week are somewhat different from what I did when I was single with no kiddos around. There is no doubt a added level of difficulty to eating healthy when you have more than yourself to worry about. Here are 3 tips to keep your meals and snacks healthy this year:
1. Plan ahead
It is no secret that planning ahead is the key to eating healthy. It doesn't have to be a long, drawn out, scheduled event each week (though it can be). I do my best meal planning when I am driving between home and the office. Often the hardest part about planning is just remembering to do it. If you are new to meal planning, set alarms or alerts on your phone, make post-it note reminders or schedule time in your phone calendar to get the planning done. If you plan to do it once a week, do it the same day and time every week. Pick 2-3 proteins, 2-3 grains and 4-5 vegetable/fruit options you need to purchase and possibly prep that day for the entire week (the actual number will depend on the size of your family). If you plan to plan and prep daily, this is only possible if you have meal components at home that you can quickly throw together to make meals. Personally, I do a bit of both daily and weekly planning. I do weekly planning when I make my grocery list and I do daily planning each morning for dinner that night.
2. Use the right equipment
Don't make meal prep harder than it needs to be. With kids running around, you don't have time to stand at a stove or in a kitchen for hours prepping your meals. Use equipment such as dutch ovens, crock pots and rice cookers. These "set and go" gadgets save you hours of time and stress getting healthy meals on the table. There are many healthy meals that require only 15-20 minutes of preparation when using this equipment. Plus, there is nothing better than coming home after a long day of work and picking up the kids from daycare/school to a completely cooked dinner, ready to put on the table.
3. Use positive language
Perhaps the hardest part of making healthy eating work with kids is keeping the idea of eating healthy positive. Too many parents look at eating healthy as a "chore" or an "annoyance" that they feel "forced" to do. They try to force their kids to eat the "healthiest" part of the meal and call them "picky" or a "bad eater" when they refuse. Stay positive. Set a good example for your kids by eating healthy foods in front of them. If you serve healthy food at least most of the time, your kids won't know that you are eating "healthy" or not...it simply will be what they are used to. In fact, don't talk about foods being healthier than others...ever. Just put good, healthy food on the table and start the meal. If you get too up in arms about healthy food, kids only see this as an opportunity to establish their independence by refusing to eat it...and I see this at ANY age, not just from toddlers.