- "Those vegetables are mushy and taste bad!'
- "My friends don't have to eat this!"
- "Preparing healthy foods to eat takes so much thought."
- "It is just easier to go through the drive-thru."
- "It is so expensive to eat healthier!"
Okay, so there are few small elements of truth in some of those claims. But, allow me to assist with a few healthy tricks to help you create some magical healthy eating at your house without too much civil unrest! So. keep reading to steer around some of those obstacles and make eating right and family meal planning a whole lot easier as well as a whole lot more successful at your house, too!
2 Big Points To Remember When Creating Healthy Eating Habits
Here are two points to keep in mind when you are trying to create healthy eating habits at your house:
- You absolutely have the power to create the new healthy norm! Yes, in the beginning, it is work to change unhealthier ways and begin anything new, and convincing others at your house to follow along and eat right can add to the burden. But, that is temporary. Once you form a diet plan that works for you, the choices and family meal planning become a lot easier. New habits form to replace the old! Remember, it can be gradual! Change the biggest offenders first, and go from there.
- Anything worthwhile takes effort. I bet you can see the value in feeling better, looking better, having more energy and giving you and your family more time and more money in your pocket. After all, in the long run, it is less expensive to eat right, practice disease prevention and pursue the best health because you won't be making time-consuming and expensive visits to the doctor or missing work, but instead, enjoying life a whole lot more!
It makes logical sense to me and if it does to you, too, but creating a healthy eating plan still feels rather overwhelming, come see a few ways you can trick yourself (and the others in your family) to make the whole process of eating right second nature and a part of your daily life. And, if you have young children at your house, pay special attention to the last section of tips to let those precious ones start life off right!
15 Ways To Trick Yourself (And Your Family) Into Eating More Healthy
1. Begin at the beginning.
I want to make two points about those critical beginnings:
A. Your start to the day can really set the intention for the rest of it. Chances are that starting off right can usually mean ending it right. Starting off badly with an unhealthy food choice like pastries and doughnuts first thing in the morning sets the mindset to say, "We will start eating healthy tomorrow." Those first choices of the day can carry a big impact. Set out your healthy breakfast the night before so you don't even think about other options.
Don't miss this: If you or your children don't have a big appetite in the morning, drinking to your health may be a good option. Try some healthy and delicious smoothie ideas here and if you ever begin your day with eggs, find the right ones you should be buying here. There is a difference in nutritional make-up, studies show.
B. Beginning each meal with the healthiest of your choices. Dig into that salad first, those vegetables first or at least a lot of them. That way, you fill up on the health-promoting stuff first. Try serving the salad before anything else at your house and let everyone begin with that before you bring on the next dish.
Don't miss this: Speaking of salads, try some of these tasty ones I pinned here that your family will love.
2. Brown bag it.
Packing you own healthy lunch is a great way to save money as well as pack in some nutrients. And, I can guarantee, a healthy lunch will sustain you and your kids for the rest of your day to get more done and have a smile on your face doing it! I have always sent my kids to school with healthy packed lunches and the others kids have always begged them for a bite!
Don't miss this: Packed lunches don't have to be boring or complicated. Look what amazing healthy things others put in their lunch sacks.
3. Make it nutrient dense.
Some foods carry extremely high levels of nutrition even over other nutritious foods. Learn what they are (I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to superfoods here.) and incorporate those foods in your meals as much as possible. Some of these superfoods can be used in very small amounts sprinkled in your smoothies, sauces, soups, and spreads to provide opportunities to make your meals even healthier.
Don't miss this: These healthy drink recipes provide amazing energy and are delicious and nutritionist-approved!
4. Put pencil to paper.
Create notes on your cell phone or whatever way is easiest for you to record what you are eating. Sometimes doing this just for a few days to a week or two helps you see what you are doing right and where you fall to temptation and need to improve. It also may show you how you feel or your children feel when you eat certain foods, too.
5. Cook every other day.
Don't like to cook a lot? That's okay. When I have a busy week ahead, I cook some healthy dishes with enough for two days and just cook every other day. Round out the second day with a simple salad or other raw vegetables.
Don't miss this: Here in one healthy sauce my family loves that can make 5 different dinners all week super fast!
6. Make plans.
If you take the time one day a week and plan out at least your main meals and make a grocery list accordingly, you will save an enormous amount of time and money. No over buying when you have your meals planned. No wandering about your pantry or pondering about what to make for dinner. You got it all planned. Dinner comes together so much faster and so much healthier. Plan some easy stuff and maybe one new dish to try a week. Ask your family for their healthy favorites to get buy-in for dinner time. Let them help prepare it, too!
Don't miss this: I showed you how to create a healthy kitchen and set it up right and it was there that I talked about having a chalkboard with the dinner plans posted for the week with buy-in from the family. Take turns featuring family members' favorites.
7. Make it pretty.
If your food looks appetizing, it makes the whole dining experience an occasion! Even a sprinkling of fresh herbs or spices at the end of preparation can do wonders and they contain so many healthy properties too!
Don't miss this: If you are so inclined and handy with a knife, here are some amazing shapes to create to get your kids to eat all those veggies up!
8. Don't go near a grocery store with hunger pangs.
Always food-shop on a full stomach with a written list. I don't know about you, but stopping by the store when I am hungry (or anyone else I am with), everything starts to look good, even . . . the not so good.
Do take your children shopping with you. Our family enjoys the farmers' markets especially with our Giant Schnauzer with us, too. The food samples, the other pets there, and the music and fun atmosphere certainly don't hurt the association it can create with healthy foods.
Don't miss this: Learn best questions to ask growers and other tips with my Farmers' Market Mini-Guide.
9. Don't be a saint all the time.
If you and your family know you won't be giving up your favorite vices all the time, it makes it easier to abide by your guidelines if you allow yourself a cheat day or meal where you get to indulge in a few bites of your favorite rich desert or Mama's special sauce. Yes, eat what you want for that cheat, but stop when you feel full and don't overdo. And, don't blow it so much that you just undid everything you strived for all week! But, enjoy those yummy bites and no guilt! And, let your children do that, too!
Avoid scolding your kids over poor food choices. However, it does not harm to point out possible connections with those choices, though, such as headaches, tummy ache, fatigue. Or even for older kids, there could be a connection to a bad skin breakout, mood swings, low energy, etc. Of course, point out how good food choices may make them feel energized, happy, and be headache and tummy ache free, too!
10. Get inspired.
Allow others to spark your creative eating pursuits. Ask your friends how they eat well. Follow some great healthy eating blogs and pin boards. A few minutes poking around to see what others are doing can be so much fun and keep you motivated to join the movement!
Don't miss this: Peek on over at these food blogs that make eating healthy extremely easy!
5 Healthy Eating Tips For Parents of Young Children
11. Put away your food-police badge.
Forcing kids to eat foods they hate most likely will not achieve what you want. Besides, it really is not respectful and teaches them very little except for resentment and frustration. Instead, keep a healthy kitchen stocked with great healthy choices.
For self-serve snacks, create a healthy snack drawer and shelf in the fridge with healthy nutritious foods they can reach themselves. Let them start young to make their own decisions about what to eat (from an assortment of healthy options), to begin taking responsibility for their nutrition and care for their bodies.
Continue to serve some familiar favorites but introduce a few new healthy dishes each week - at various meals. Begin trying to replace the biggest offenders first and go from there. Remember, it could be really easy like a flour switch for their pancakes they may not even notice or choosing pasture-raised eggs rather than the commercial choices. Keep trying! Kids often need several introductions to a new food before they may like it. Be calm and respect their feelings and don't get upset if they refuse it for a while.
12. Spend time at healthy places.
Check out these fun outings with a message:
- Visit a farm that produces foods in the right way for us and our environment.
- Go to restaurants with healthy menu choices and teach your children how to order.
- Take a healthy cooking class together for parents and children.
- Grow your own food. Let your children pick a favorite fruit or vegetable to nurture.
- Read books together that talk about healthy foods, gardening, etc.
13. Sneaking is okay - up to a point.
No deceit, but I think it if fine to throw in some spinach with their fruit smoothie or substitute healthier grains at dinner time and of course, toss in a new vegetable in your stir-fry.
14. Be playful.
Teach them why you serve the foods you do and what it can do for them. For example, you can point out that blueberries feed their brain to learn, red peppers keep them from catching a cold, etc. Then, when serving it to them or shopping with them, see what they remember. Make it a game and teach them the connection between the foods they choose and how it makes them feel and support their health.
Little children can't resist a fun plate with colorful foods presented in cute ways and shapes. Surprise them in their lunch box! This tool (under $6) can make creating fun food a snap!
15. Just ask!
Ask your children to describe the foods they like. what they don't like. such as textures, tastes, smells, etc. Then you can learn what turns them off and try to alter it.
So, what did I leave off? I am sure you have plenty of tips to add to what works for you and your family. I would love to hear them!
This post previously appeared on THM but has been updated.