By guest blogger, Ashley Lipman
Summer is the ideal time to establish healthy eating habits for your entire family. The increased availability of fresh produce, allotted vacation time and the joy that follows the summer season create an opportunity for positive change that you don’t want to miss.
The best way to improve your family’s lifestyle is to start making small changes while forging sustainable eating habits. Here are six steps to implement a healthy family diet this summer.
1. Identify Your Goals
Sure, you want your family to eat healthier, but what does that mean? By setting specific goals, you’re implementing an outline for the family to follow so that no one veers off course. This will increase your chances of achieving a successful healthy family diet.
First, evaluate what you want to accomplish together. Maybe you’d like to start by limiting eating out at a restaurant or ordering take-out to just one night a week instead of two or three times. Perhaps you’d prefer to set a goal of everyone consuming the recommended daily intake (RDI) of fruits and vegetables.
Next, look at your personal goals. Often times, parents seek to create a lifestyle change for their entire family while accomplishing personal health and fitness goals. For example, you may have a goal of increasing your lean protein intake and reducing processed carbohydreates to lose weight (get more info) or drinking enough water. Set smart goals and post them somewhere visible.
2. Empower the Kids
Adjustments are hard for everyone involved, but children are especially tied to routines. The best way to make the transition easier for all is to empower your children by giving them a voice during the changes. Talk to them about what you hope to achieve and why. Have discussions about why eating healthier is important, and how it will help improve the family’s health. Allow kids to set their own small goals and celebrate when they accomplish them.
You’ll also want to get the kids involved in the meal planning process. You can do so by taking them grocery shopping and teaching them how to pick fresh, organic produce or allowing them to choose one new thing to try every week. You can also put them in charge of planning meals one night to ease the meal planning process.
3. Keep it Simple
Don’t get sucked into the Pinterest vortex when meal planning. Choose a few simple dishes that you can make with versatile ingredients. Rather than thinking of the latest and greatest fifteen-step recipe, choose a protein, a vegetable, and a healthy carb. Portioning your meals by storing leftovers to use for future meals immediately removes the temptation to overeat.
As you get better at meal planning, you can start to add in more creative and time-consuming recipes. Don’t hesitate to use pre-cut vegetables or pre-cooked food from the store as you get started. It’s often worth the few extra dollars each week by saving time in food prep.
4. Make Healthy Snacks Available
One of the easiest ways to encourage your family to start a healthy diet is to make healthy food accessible. Having fruit and veggies pre-cut and ready for kids to grab from the fridge will make it easier for everyone to eat healthy on the go.
In addition to making healthy snacks available, this strategy can be enhanced by making unhealthy snacks unavailable. Many people find that while they may be tempted to eat chips, they aren’t willing to drive out and get them. Removing junk food from the house makes it easier for everyone to achieve their goals.
5. Learn to Read Food Labels
One of the best ways you can improve your family’s diet is by purchasing whole, plant-based food that are ingredients rather than food that contians ingredients. However, this feat isn’t always realistic for busy families. That’s why it’s essential to learn how to read food labels.
There are numerous food options that are marketed as healthy, but are loaded with sugar and preservatives. Granola bars are a great example of a food that’s marketed as a so-called-healthy snack option, but upon a closer look at the label, isn’t. Read ingredients and educate yourself on red flag items to watch for.
6. Focus on Actions, Not Results
Focus on the journey, not the destination. By paying attention to the daily tasks ahead rather than the end game, you’re more likely to achieve your desired results. Take it day-by-day and by the end of the summer, youll have a healthy family diet in place without realizing that time has passed.
Try these six steps for creating a healthy family diet this summer as the foundation for a long-term, healthy lifestyle change.