MAKING THE MOVE TO HEALTHIER FAMILY EATING HABITS
Introducing healthier food choices and vowing to increase the family’s consumption of vegetables and fruits may be met with wrinkled noses and less-than-enthusiastic commentary, from kids and adult family members alike. It’s tough to make dramatic change overnight. But with a commitment to trial, transition and a few tricks, families can adopt healthier habits – happily.
The eating and activity habits we develop as children have a strong impact on our lifelong health and well-being. It’s our obligation as grown-ups to ensure kids have a strong foundation! Making gradual changes, introducing new foods and adapting to new tastes week by week can result in major change in the course of a year and ultimately a lifetime. Here are some helpful tips help you transition to more healthful eating habits:
- Try, Try, Repeat. There are many great tasting fruits and vegetables that many kids have never heard of, let alone tried. Grab a new fruit or vegetable and encourage everyone in the family to try at least a bite. Sometimes it takes two or three times of trial before either developing a like or dislike. Include kids in identifying, learning about and shopping for new items. Weekend farmers’ markets and produce sales can be great opportunities to discover new and interesting varieties. Grown-ups remember it may take up to 10 trials before family members will gladly add a vegetable or fruit to a meal.
- Be a Role Model. Actions of older family members will influence how kids react to foods. The more kids hear “I love salad” or “Carrots are my favorite” the more they’ll think positively. Similarly, if a grown-up refuses anything green, kids may start passing on the broccoli, too.
- Transition in Steps. If the family is used to whole milk, introduce 2 percent, then 1 percent (depending on ages of young children) and then skim. Start transitioning to more healthful ingredients like trying ground turkey/chicken in place of ground beef.
- Makeover Family Recipes. Get the whole family involved in creating “new and improved” family favorites. Instead of packaged mac and cheese, try making a healthier version with whole grain pasta, real cheese and—for an extra boost—add some pureed cauliflower. Skip delivery and let everyone make their own pizza with whole wheat crust and a variety of veggie toppings and a lean protein.
- Offer Choices. Choices give kids and grown-ups an opportunity to exercise power and have opinions. Offer a couple of fresh fruit options to choose from at breakfast, choice of veggies and fruits for lunch boxes and after school snacks. Mix a variety of favorites and new options to help everyone make a healthier choice.
- Negotiate Rather Than Dictate. Getting the family involved in finding healthy recipes to try, helping prepare new things, reading labels and doing projects like starting a healthy family recipe book gives everyone a voice and a part in decision making instead of being commanded to eat differently.
Source: Healthy Family Home