Healthy Habits for Healthier Families
What happens at your house when you serve up healthier foods? Do you meet groans and resistance when you offer kale or quinoa?
If so, you’re not alone! It can be a challenge to juggle likes and dislikes and deal with the reluctance to try new foods. But don’t give up! Studies are clear that eating at home as a family brings benefits such as a healthier weight, eating more fruits and veggies as well as closer family connections and increased confidence and self esteem.
Here are some tips to help in your quest for providing healthier meals for the entire family:
Be a positive role model. Kids model their parent’s behaviors so it’s important to set the example by working on healthy habits with eating, exercising and managing stress effectively yourself.
Plan to have at least 3 meals together at home on a weekly basis. Most families are busy with many activities, but studies show families who eat together at home at least 3 times a week have healthier habits overall. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or supper, make it a time of sharing the day’s events and celebrations. Keep it free of screens including cell phones, tablets and television and focus on connecting with each other instead.
Go slow and start with 1-2 changes at a time. You don’t have to overhaul everything at once but let the family know what changes are coming such as: water instead of sweet drinks, frying once a week, less junk food, planned treats, more veggies at dinner, etc.
Get everyone involved. Parents are the leaders but kids tend to buy into a change if they have input and feel part of the process. Let them help with planning meals, snack and treats. They can also help with shopping, cooking and cleaning up after!
Engage the one bite rule. Make sure everyone tastes whatever foods are served. Many kids are picky eaters and young taste buds need 15-20 exposures to a new food. Serve it in different ways and don’t make a big deal if they don’t like it. As a parent show kids that you can taste a food you don’t like and are open to trying foods too. Also avoid the “h” word. Instead of saying healthy, use words such as “yummy” or “delicious.”
Work in treats. Help kids understand the difference between everyday and sometimes foods. Foods such as fruits and veggies are everyday foods, whereas, sweets and chips are sometimes foods to be enjoyed in moderation.
Don’t give up! Some meals will be successful and others will bomb so expect the ups and downs. They might moan and groan at times but you’ll find kids will ask and look forward to family meals. Remember that structure in meal times helps kids feel more secure. And the reward of better health, meaningful connections and fun memories will last a lifetime!