Eating Healthy as a Family
My husband and I always call ourselves “foodie wannabes.” We’ll see a new modern restaurant and put it on our date night list, but then when we look at the menu, we realize we’re just not that fancy and end up at one of our three favorite casual places. You could call us picky. I’m ok with that.
The problem with us picky eaters is that we also raise picky eaters. This is especially evident with our oldest son. For the record, we are both much less picky than we used to be, but he was born before we paid much attention to healthy eating and he has the sweet tooth to prove it! Our middle son is a little less picky and our youngest will try just about anything. This goes hand-in-hand with the lifestyle changes we’ve made in the last six years, including becoming runners and making better nutrition choices.
Speaking from experience, raising a healthy eater from the start is much easier than getting older children to change their eating habits, but it is not an impossible task! Paying attention to nutrition is a way to honor the bodies given to us by God. It is worth it for so many reasons, but where do you start?
I believe the best way to create a healthy eating environment in your home is to involve the whole family. Here are my favorite tips for making this happen…
Get out the calendar, cookbooks, and your computer and start planning! Set some guidelines, for example each meal must include a protein and vegetable, and let everybody plan a meal within those guidelines. Use Pinterest to help you find healthier versions of meals you already enjoy. Plan theme nights, such as Taco Tuesday or Salad Sunday, to give it a fun feel. Planning ahead saves times and battles at meal time because everybody knows what is coming!
With your plan in place, take the whole family (or maybe just one child if that sounds like madness) with you to grocery shop. Teach them how to pick out good produce. Let them select a new fruit or vegetable to try. Show them how labels can help them understand what is in the food they are eating. I’ve seen my kids independently expand their food horizons thanks to a sample at a grocery store or an interesting looking fruit. Shopping together also helps them understand the value of food and how we spend our money!
This is where the real fun begins- involve the whole family in meal prep! Obviously, activities should be age-appropriate, but there are manythings for kids of all ages to do in the kitchen! I have one son who loves to bake, one who loves to crack eggs, and one who wants to get creative with food. My kids are so much more likely to eat something they helped prepare!
Remember, our kids are more likely to eat healthy foods if we are eating healthy foods. Make family meal time a priority. Teach table manners and etiquette. Eat together and let your kids see you eating that healthy food you are serving them. I’ve always loved fish, but my husband is a recent convert. We eat a lot of salmon and tilapia and, after seeing how much we enjoy it, our boys agreed to try it. I’m happy to say the whole family will eat fish now and it’s been a great addition to our meals! It’s never too late to try something new, but make sure you’re making the healthy changes along with the family!
If you’re starting this healthy eating journey with younger kids, Dinner for Dinos is a great jumping off point! The cute dinosaurs plan, shop, prepare, and eat together, as well as discuss healthy options and table manners. It’s a short board book that can inspire many wonderful conversations about the importance of food and nutrition – a must-add to your home library!
Dinosaurs might be scary, but I promise you healthy eating is not and your family can make it happen! Give yourself grace as you make the transition and be open to all sorts of new things – your kids will thank you for it in the long run!
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