Building a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones. A whole-family approach means the entire household works as a team to make good choices and achieve better health and well-being. Healthy eating can be fun and doesn’t have to be a. Here are our top five tips for getting everyone involved in building and sticking with healthy eating habits.
1. Plan healthy meals and snacks with the family
Getting the entire family involved in shopping and meal planning is a great way to get buy in and spark interest. You can make it creative by choosing a new healthy food or recipe to try each week and involve the family in choosing, shopping, and preparing it.
2. Involve the family in preparing meals
Preparing meals together is an enjoyable way to teach everyone how to eat more healthfully and try new recipes and cooking tips. Children as young as two can participate by adding items to the bowl or stirring a dish. Here are a few ideas:
- Harvest: If you have a garden, involve the family in gathering fresh produce from the garden for a meal.
- Wash: Let your child help wash fresh fruits and vegetables, such as potatoes, peppers, grapes, carrots, or lettuce.
- Mix/Read Recipes: If your meal has loose items such as herbs, spices, vegetables, and sauces, let your child mix together these ingredients and stir items. Your older child can also help you read the recipe and ingredients.
3. Make it a contest
Everyone loves a friendly competition, so why not go it for it in healthy eating as well? Try creative contests such as planning a Meatless Monday menu, preparing the healthiest snacks, and discovering meals that fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables. You can also track family progress using a creative chart and sticker board. Tie each sticker to a serving of a fruit or vegetables, and the winner each week gets to choose a fun family activity.
4. Improve the healthfulness of the food at home
When the family’s hungry, chances are the foods most accessible are the first to be picked. Hack your family’s choices by making fruits and vegetables more visible and within reach, reduce the number of high fat and sugary snacks in the house, and replace pre-sweetened beverages with water.
5. Avoid labeling food as “bad”
It’s important to not label foods as bad. Rather talk as a family about the importance of eating healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This can include learning to read nutrition labels together, discussing why some foods are healthier than others, and not making any foods off limits. Communicate that you can enjoy any food in small amounts now and then instead of being restrictive.
It’s important to remember that if you are just getting started, don’t try to go all in right away. Slowly start incorporating changes into your family’s routine and see what works in your home.
What tips do you have for getting started? Share in the comments below!
Eating as a family: www.eatright.org/resources/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family
Flattum C, Draxten M, Horning M, Fulkerson JA, Neumark-Sztainer D, Garwick A, et al. “HOME Plus: Program design and implementation of a family-focused, community-based intervention to promote the frequency and healthfulness of family meals, reduce children’s sedentary behavior, and prevent obesity.” Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015;12:53-015-0211-7.
Gruber KJ, Haldeman LA. “Using the family to combat childhood and adult obesity.” Prev Chronic Dis. 2009;6(3):A106
American Academy of Pediatrics: www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx
Sepulveda MJ, Lu C, Sill S, Young JM, Edington DW. “An observational study of an employer intervention for children’s healthy weight behaviors.” Pediatrics. 2010;126(5):e1153–60.