Making healthy food choices is important. Not only does a healthy diet help your family to live longer, happier lives, but it instills habits that last a lifetime. A healthy diet features the standard inclusion of fruits and vegetables, but it should go beyond that as we consider ways to make healthy eating more enjoyable. Watch how your energy and focus improve when you continue to make healthy food choices with your family. Here are some tips to get you started.
Rethink the Snack Menu
It used to be that snacks could be anything and everything. A snack could be a piece of candy, a can of soda, or a bag of chips. While junk food snacks might taste good, they defeat the purpose of having a snack, which is to give you some energy to get you through the day until the next meal.
With sugar and junk food, you’re getting empty calories and a quick sugar rush that will soon end in a crash. Your kids may be hyper for a bit, but then you’re all grumpy and h-angry. To make healthier food choices, try some cut-up veggies or fruit that will taste great and give you natural energy.
Slow Down & Enjoy Real Food
It’s easy to grab something to eat while you’re headed out the door. Or maybe you eat while you sit in front of the TV. Mindless eating or quick, on-the-go food choices are rarely in sync with healthy food choices.
You’re more likely to choose popcorn or chips while you watch TV or a movie. And, while you’re heading out the door, are you and your family carrying a burrito, breakfast sandwich, or some other to-go food? If you take the time to prepare meal ingredients in advance, you can enjoy a healthy meal with your family before running off to work or school.
Check the Nutritional Value
It’s easy to believe what we’re told in recipes and on the box, but sometimes you need to dig a little deeper to find out the true nutritional value of the foods your family eats. Look at the portion size and the calories per serving, but also consider the sodium and fat content in the food.
Make nutritional values part of your daily meal planning, so you know how successful you are at achieving your goal of eating healthier foods. Not every meal will be as nutritious and healthy as it could be, and that’s okay. Your goal is to work toward a healthier and happier lifestyle, and that doesn’t happen overnight.
Make Better Choices When Eating Out
If you’re grabbing food when you’re out of the house, you have the option of buying healthier choices. You just need to take time for extra planning. Healthier food choices include options that are steamed, baked, roasted, or stir-fried. It might require a sit-down meal or carry-out from a healthier restaurant, but it can support your new lifestyle.
Healthier restaurant meals help you continue to look and feel better as a family. You might have noticed how eating at some of those high-fat, fast-food restaurants leaves you feeling lethargic and grumpy. Imagine how much better you’ll feel if you insist on healthy food options for every meal choice — in and out of the house.
Check the Portion Size
You know how easy it can be to pile food on the plate without thinking about what you’re eating, or how much. Yet, another aspect of healthy food choices is being mindful of the amount you’re eating. If you graze-eat all day long, you’re still eating a lot, even if it is healthy food. Think about how much you and your family are eating and consider the portion size.
When our kids are growing, it often seems like they could eat a horse. For most of us, though, we eat larger portions of food than we need to support our healthy lifestyles. Consider what and how much you’re eating. Then, try reducing your portion size and see how great you feel.
Make It Fun & Enjoyable
When the kids were small, we’d make fun shapes out of the fruit they ate. We’d mix it up and add peanut butter and raisins to the celery, and we’d create fun creatures out of the morning pancakes.
We grow up and sometimes don’t have as much fun with the foods we eat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your exploration with food. Learn more about what you’re eating. Try taste-testing with the family to determine which recipe you like the best. Or, you could even take turns with the meals to let everyone make healthy meal choices that are fun and enjoyable to share.
Explore New Cuisine
Trying new tastes and experiencing new food selections is a great way to eat more healthy foods with your family. Explore food from around the world with themed dinners. Transport your family’s taste buds to India with Chickpea Chana Chaat to the meditarian coast of Greece with oven roasted Briam. And if your family is not vegetarian, try incorporating some Scandinavian inspired seafood dishes into your diet because salmon is a great source of protein. Get your family out of their comfort zone and remember that healthy food is an adventure.
*This is a collaborative post