Healthy Eating Tips
Spring is near and it is always a great time for positive changes. Whether it is because you are waiting for nicer weather, more outside activities, or just awaiting Spring Break, it can be a fun time of year for everyone. Spring Break is a good time to start healthier eating habits as a family. Since the children are out of school, you can plan healthier meals and snacks together.
Be a good role model. You cannot expect your children to eat a lot of fruits & vegetables, if you are not setting the example. Remember that healthy eating is not a temporary fix, it is a lifestyle change.
Try something new. Sometimes you may have picky eaters in your family. If this is true, or not true, trying new recipes or new foods weekly help everyone in the household. You may discover a new favorite food that you will want to have more often.
Get the family involved in meal planning and preparation. Children are more likely to eat foods that they have helped to prepare. The involvement can be small, such as, picking out the recipe, washing the vegetables, setting the table, mixing the ingredients or cleanup.
Make mealtime family time. Try to have at least one meal a day together. This time should be focused on enjoying the meal & time together. This can actually improve eating habits. Children tend to eat more fruits & vegetables and dairy foods that are shared with their families.
Quality is the key. Opt for fresh or frozen. Fresher foods provide higher amounts of essential nutrients and taste better when they are picked at their peak. Canned & frozen foods are picked at their peak, but canned foods may have added salt or sugar. Rinse before serving them. If picking fresh fruit and/or vegetables, buy them in season. They will be less expensive, which will stretch your food dollar.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Make sure you take some with you when you leave the house. Keep them in your purse, car, bag, etc. Some healthy, nutritious snacks that are helpful- dry cereal, plain popcorn, string cheese, pretzels or fruit. This will decrease the temptation to make unhealthy choices elsewhere.
Dining out can be healthy. Call ahead or visit the websites of the restaurant to find out menu choices & nutrition information for you and your family. Find out if they can mix and match food items to provide more variety and healthy eating options.
Changing times. There can be a lot of challenges to make mealtimes at home. You can change dinner times throughout the week to accommodate busy schedules. Try to have at least four family meals per week. Be creative on meal preparation. For example, have a picnic or tailgate party before or after a game or practice.
One of the most interesting studies of family eating patterns was published in 2005 by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. The study found that family dinner gets better with practice; “the less often a family eats together, the worse the experience is likely to be, the less healthy the food and the more meager the talk. Among those who eat together three or fewer times a week, 45% say the TV is on during meals (as opposed to 37% of all households), and nearly one-third say there isn’t much conversation. Such kids are also more than twice as likely as those who have frequent family meals to say there is a great deal of tension among family members, and they are much less likely to think their parents are proud of them.”
Always remember that trying new eating habits as a family can be very rewarding for you and your children. It has been shown that family mealtime brings families closer together. Especially when families have longer meals, this may promote close, personal interaction. Benefits go beyond catching up on the day, building family ties and enjoying each others company.
“The Magic of the Family Meal” Time Magazine: Health & Science. Retrieved February 8, 2009. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200760,00.html
- Do You Struggle With Planning Healthy Meals for Your Family?
- Dinner’s On: How to Cook Once and Feed All Eaters
- Benefits of Special Diets for Special Needs Children
- Staying Healthy Where And What Should We Eat?
- Starting off the New Year with New Food Choices
- Eating Breakfast When You Are on a Special Diet
- Traveling with Special Dietary Need
- What to Make of Portions and Serving Sizes?
- Healthy Eating Options for Fueling Your Child
- Focus on Color
- Benefits of Fiber
- Nutrition Myths Debunked
- Health & Nutrition Apps for Family Fun
- Special Diets for a Variety of Disabilities & Disorders
- Where to Purchase Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) Foods and Some Favorite Brands