Eating healthy doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can maintain good habits and still have quick fix meals or even take out for those busy weeknights. The key is to plan ahead and arm yourself with some simple knowledge.
These five tips will help you improve your family’s eating habits one small step at a time.
Understand Portion Size
When you know just how much food your toddler (or you!) actually requires, it is easier to limit your servings and train your brain to recognize certain amounts as enough. Research your particular caloric, fiber, and protein needs based on body weight and age. From there, you can see if you need to reduce your carb intake and up your fiber or protein. Make it a rule that you fill half your plate with vegetables at dinner. An easy, fun way to demonstrate portions with your kids is to section out fruit, veggies, grains, and meat into muffin tins. Use mini ones for your toddlers and preschoolers and regular sizes for yourself and older children.
Practice Meal Prep
Simple preparations over the weekend or the night before can make grab and go meals and snacks stress-free. Chop and portion out vegetables and fruits. You’re more likely to reach for those if they are ready to go. You can also chop and freeze bananas and berries for smoothies. Cook big batches of grains such as rice, quinoa, and couscous to add to meals all week long. Marinate your meat so it’s ready to slide in the oven or put in the slow cooker.
Swap for Complex Carbs
Simple exchanges for complex carbohydrates or whole grains will make you feel fuller longer and give your meal a fiber boost. Think old-fashioned oatmeal instead of granola, two slices of whole wheat toast instead of a bagel, and plain Greek yogurt with fruit instead of pre-sweetened fruit yogurt cups. You can also add nutritional powerhouses like ground flaxseed, chia, or wheat germ to smoothies, yogurt, or chopped fruit.
Don’t restrict yourself completely from little treats, especially if you know denial will only make you crave that item more. Allow yourself—and your kids—one treat each day. Just try to keep it under 200 calories. This is another great place to practice substitutions: dark chocolate for milk chocolate, smoothies over milkshakes, homemade granola bars instead of cookies.
Drink Plenty of Water
We’ve all heard it. Drinking water is the single best thing you can do to improve your healthy lifestyle. Get everyone in the family their own unique water bottle and fill it up. Add fruit or cucumber slices for flavor and make it a family challenge to see who can reach their goal first each day. Drinking water will help keep you full between meals and will help flush out toxins and pesky germs. Finally, summer is approaching and there’s nothing like a cold glass of ice water to beat the Texas heat!
Eat up and drink up and stay healthy this year.