Tuesday, July 9, 2013

9 Simple Ways to Help Your Family Eat Healthier

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Both of us have had difficulty at times getting our families to eat new foods. I (Britney) have a picky son who refuses most foods based on sight, and Mom’s younger children, my brothers and sisters who lived at home while she was converting to a healthier diet, are often suspicious of new foods, smoothies, and the like, since they lived through the more experimental days.

It’s a lot of work to change, but the hardest step is deciding to truly begin. Every meal that you plan with the intent to help your family eat healthier does make a difference. Every snack that you switch from empty carbs to bites full of nutrients makes your body and your family members’ bodies live with greater quality of life. You are the catalyst for change in your family’s life. You can make the difference

1. Start Introducing Healthy Food Slowly
It’s a fact that it takes a little while for taste buds and digestive systems to adjust to eating healthy. Start slowly by buying half as much junk food at the grocery store, keeping healthy snacks ready in your refrigerator, sneaking whole grains into one of your recipes, or having a healthier side for one of your meals. It’s all about the baby steps.

It’s important to remember that you’re not going on a fad diet. You’re making healthy attitude and taste changes that you and your family can keep the rest of your lives.

2. Presentation Is Everything
Don’t make excuses with your food. Present it like your new recipe is normal. Because, after all, when you keep up with the positive changes, it will be. Make sure your food looks good. Put an extra garnish on top or top it with fresh cheese. If it looks like something out of a food magazine your family will be more likely to try it.

3. Eat Together as a Family
Studies have shown that eating together as a family is one of the most important things you can do for your child’s emotional well-being. But it also helps model good eating behavior. Do you always put a serving of vegetables on your plate? Do you eat just until you are full? Your children are learning from you.

4. Institute a Rule That Everyone Try at Least One Bite of Everything
Even the adults and teenagers. I’m not suggesting that you need to make dinnertime a fight (or lunchtime or breakfast time). This is one of those rules that you institute if you feel it’s right for you. But the kids might enjoy seeing that picky dad has to eat at least one bite just like they do. Some food needs to be tried several times in order to develop a taste for it.

5. Make Healthy Food the Easiest to Snack On
What food stares at you and calls your name when you open the refrigerator or pantry? Is it chips? Cookies or carrot sticks? Would you be more likely to eat healthy food if it were already prepared? I would. We are creatures of ease and habit. We will usually pick whichever food is the most available unless we have a strong motivation to do otherwise. Make it easier for your family to pick healthy snacks.

6. Be Okay with Trial and Error
Guess what? You might not like everything that you cook. Your family might not either. But you can’t blame that on healthy eating. There would be trial and error even if you weren’t making your fruit salad with quinoa. J

7. Get Rid of Junk Food in Your Home
We’re not extremists who never allow our children to have white sugar, but it’s a true principle that the less junk food you store in your cupboards, the more likely your family will eat the healthy food that is around.

8. Try It Again
If you think you found a food your family should like but they rejected once, try it again. Many people have to try new foods multiple times before it becomes something they like. Make adjustments in the name or presentation of the food if you think that would help.

9. Serve Vegetables as an Appetizer and Fruit as Dessert
Rethink the way you eat. Have the family sit down and eat vegetables together before you even get out the main dish. If they don’t eat it, they can at least sit and talk. And a dessert can be a simple sweet taste, like fruit or yogurt.

These suggestions might work; they might not. As with anything, take our advice with a grain of salt and use what works for your family. But most of all, try to keep mealtime a happy time for your family. Sometimes it might be okay if your child wants to make herself a sandwich. Then you can have the leftovers of the good stuff for lunch!

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