I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but being the beginning of a new year, January 1 is always a good time to get back on track with goals that have gotten of course. I always strive to serve nutritious, balanced meals at our house, but lately, with busy schedules and lack of planning on my part, that goal has gotten a bit off track. So, for our goal re-start I am focusing on serving and encouraging healthy food choices for our family.
To do this, there are 3 main things I plan on focusing on:
1. Planning Ahead –
When I prepare a weekly menu my life is much easier and we eat much healthier. It only takes a me a few minutes to jot down the days of the week and then from there, plan daily menus around what I have on hand, what’s on sale at the grocery store, and what our schedule for the week looks like. Once I’ve got the plan together, I write it on our chalkboard cupboard so everyone knows menu for the week.
This plan not only saves me time in the long run, it saves me money, and fuss from kids. I plan my shopping based on the menu and since I plan my menu based on what’s in the cupboards and what’s on sale, I don’t spend as much. The kids don’t fuss because they can see what were going to be eating all week; plus, most of the time they help me with the plan.
When I get stuck for healthy meal ideas, I have my favorite go to place online, . We’re members of their and it is an awesome resource…no only do you get pre-planned weekly menus sent to you (which really takes the work on of menu planning), but there are so many great recipe ideas. Plus, they have tips for preserving fruits and veggies, encouraging picky eaters…oh and both Amy and Natalie are health educators, so they know their stuff. Even if you’re not a member and just need some ideas, is a must-check-out site for fun, tasty and healthy menu ideas.
2. Keep Healthy Snacks/Food Stocked –
One way to avoid eating no-so-healthy stuff is to not have not-so-healthy stuff around the house. BUT, for me, it’s also key to have some snack-y goodness that I can eat and feel good about. I like to keep things stocked that are snack-y in nature, but have nutritional value, things like granola bars (even those coated in chocolate!), trail mixes, fruit sorbet’s, whole grain crackers and cheese. I also keep the fruit and veggie stash filled up for making things like smoothies or salads, and just for munching.
Alex and Sophia are notorious sugar fiends and I’m a salt-lover. These facts will never change, but by keeping around the food selections that meet the sweet/salty desires and still provide nutritional value, we all win.
3. Monitor, Teach and Reward
I’m one of those parents that is less of a restricter and more of a teacher. This means that I don’t have specific rules about what can be eaten and when, BUT, I do take every eating opportunity as a chance to teach. I pay attention to what each of them are eating (or think they are going to eat). When my daughter wants cake for breakfast in the morning, we discuss why cake for breakfast is not a good thing and pick out alternatives. When my son grabs the entire bag of chips out of the cupboard, I explain to him why just taking a few in a bowl is a better option, and offer a banana to go with.
I am still restricting, it’s just that I work hard to make sure they know why. When their are rules in place like, ‘no cake until after 12pm’, then the reason attributed for not having cake for breakfast becomes ‘because it’s not after 12pm’, instead of the actual reason, which is, ‘because cake provides no nutritional support for learning or your body and you need those things to start your day right.’
To encourage making healthy eating decisions, one practice we’ve recently reimplemented is our 3 servings of fruit and veggies a day minimum goal. If the kids can achieve this each week, they get a prize at the end of the month. This works much better with Sophia, age 10, than teenager, Alex, but he tends to make fairly healthy eating choices overall without lots of encouragement (I’d like to say that’s due to his ‘training’ in his younger years ;D).
Not having strict rules for them is more work for me. I have to constantly remind and monitor, but at this point, I think it’s working. Like I mentioned, Alex, age 15, tends to make healthy food choices much of the time and Sophia always knows what’s coming when she try’s to have cookies for breakfast.
All that being said, each family and child is different. Somethings that work great for one household just won’t for another–neither is the right way, just the way that works for them. I’d love to hear some tips that work for your family when it comes to keeping kids eating healthy–please let me know with a comment!
Happy Healthy Eating Everyone!
NOTE: For more information about the recommended daily intake of various fruits, veggies and food in general, check out ChooseMyPlate.gov. AND, not that we are an affiliate of SuperHealthyKids.com, so if you do decide to become a member, we will receive some compensation that helps us keep our website going.