Food affects how you look and feel, how you work and how you parent. Food affects how your kids behave and how many sick days and cavities they get. Do you have a handle on food?
Review the seven strategies below and pick one you can work on today.
In no time, you’ll see that by making just one small change at a time, it’s easy to make healthy happen in your household.
1} Plan meals
Make time each Friday to plan the next week’s meals, and you’ll be surprised (and happy!) about how much time and money you save. Do it during your lunch break or after your kids go to sleep. Make it fun! Take 15 minutes and treat yourself to a cup of tea and some great music. If you plan on Friday, you can use your weekend time to shop, chop fruits and veggies to easily grab during the week, and make some healthy sweet treats and avoid the processed alternatives.
2} Eat a salad with your meal
Start your lunch and dinner with a salad — or enjoy a big salad for your meal. Add a rainbow of vegetables that range from crunchy to leafy. Make your own dressing (it’s so easy). Children can to help you in the kitchen: older kids can wash and cut veggies, and little ones can tear lettuce and toss. Making and eating salads together is a fabulous way to get healthy together.
Healthy Hack: Make a jar of simple salad dressing — lemon, olive oil, an herb like thyme or oregano, and salt. You could also add chopped garlic, and a drop of maple syrup.
3} Shop and prep on Sundays
There are 3 parts to your task on Sunday: shop, unpack, and prep.
Go shopping. Make it an experience you enjoy. If you want to spend time with a child, bring them along; if you need a little alone time, see if they can stay home, go to a friend’s house, or go to grandma’s.
Unpack the groceries as soon as you get home – and ask those little hands to help!
Prep anything you can right away. For example, you can wash spinach or lettuce, wrap it in paper towels and put it in the fridge. You can take the leaves off of radishes, wash the radishes, cut off any stems, and store them in an airtight container. Prepping food right away saves you time during the week, and encourages you to use produce before it goes to waste.
4} Freeze forward
If you’re already cooking, you may as well make extra. You might bake extra pancakes to freeze for future breakfasts, or a big pot of soup for future dinners. Know that there will be nights that you just can’t cook, and be ok with that — and prepared. Busy nights don’t mean you have to ditch all your healthy efforts.
5} Bake from Scratch
Skip the store-bought stuff and know all the ingredients going into your body. It’s easier than you think! Having homemade treats on hand keeps your sweet tooth satisfied without any weird or scary ingredients. When you use wholesome ingredients with fiber, vitamins and minerals, your body knows when to stop so you don’t eat the whole batch. Have the kids help you measure and mix, and enjoy time together while your treats bake or chill.
6} Cook with your kids
Cooking with your kids is one of the biggest acts of love you can pass on to your kids. You are the only one at this point who can teach your kids the power that food has on their health. There is a lot of chatter in government and at school, but not much healthy eating is happening on a large scale yet. Seeing cooking as a gift and as quality bonding time takes away the chore aspect that many moms associate with being in the kitchen.
7} Eat with your child(ren)
The biggest mistake that busy moms make is trying to get stuff done while their kids eat alone. Make an effort to sit with your child for at least one meal a day. When you sit, you actually digest your food better. When you sit, your kids see that you are eating the same thing as they are, and over time kids will eat what their parents eat. Lastly, research shows that even teenagers really do appreciate the time they spend sharing meals with their parents.
Healthy Hack: Make a list of your 5 “easy meals” so on busy days, you still can make dinner at home — they can be meals you can easily double and freeze, a dish that uses few ingredients that are always on hand, or a sauce you always know how to whip together.