How Does Your Healthy Eating Benefit Your Family?
Families that eat together stay together. It naturally follows that families who eat healthily are healthy together. Imagine everyone in your family eating only healthy foods, at the proper times, in the correct amounts and the right place. Sound like an impossible dream? Not so fast! It doesn’t have to be that way. Humans are social animals. If you just manage to get your own eating habits in order, you shouldn’t be surprised when your family picks up your cues. Maybe your family isn’t ready to give up tasty junk food or sees exercise as a punishment. You are in a unique position to lead by example and change their viewpoint.
You are eating healthy if:
- You eat whole foods and keep packaged foods to a minimum.
- Your mealtimes are regular.
- Your food portions are consistent.
- You consciously choose foods that are nutrient rich but not calorie dense. For example, seafood over red meat.
- You take your time while eating
- You buy fresh produce regularly rather than store food in your freezer for long periods of time.
- You make sure to eat only when you are hungry, and not if you are stressed out or bored.
- At mealtimes, you concentrate only on eating. TV and smartphones are kept far away.
- You prepare food in ways that preserve nutrition. For example – boiling or steaming instead of deep frying.
- Your grocery shopping is disciplined. You do not purchase unhealthy snacks and hence reduce temptation.
- You plan your meals and carry food when you travel to avoid making unhealthy choices outside your home.
So how can your healthy eating benefit your family? Use your knowledge to slowly but surely bring them onto a healthy path too. Here’s how you can start off:
- Start low key – Transition periods are tricky. No matter how much you plan, not every meal will be a complete success in the beginning. Someone might have an unhealthy snack or just might not want to eat a particular item. That’s okay. Remember, even little changes add up eventually.
- Don’t fuss – The worst thing you can do is to preach and force your family to follow you. Don’t make a hue and cry about how healthy a meal is. Let them see the results and get motivated at their own pace. Allow for cheat days. Follow the 80-20 rule: 80% healthy and 20% indulgence.
- Experiment – Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland or boring. The internet is full of exciting and innovative recipes you can try out. Mix and match flavors and ingredients to create your own unique dishes. Involve your family at every stage – from deciding on the recipe to purchasing ingredients and in cooking the dish. Note down what works and who liked what. Repeat in the future.
- Out of sight, out of mind – Keep the junk foods out of sight, so that if someone has a craving they have to hunt for them. Instead, keep fresh fruits, salads, nuts, and seeds handy. In the same way, to avoid overeating, keep serving bowls away from the dining table. This means to get additional helpings, a person has to leave the table. This will help in regulating food portions.
- Make mealtimes enjoyable – Cooking and healthy eating doesn’t have to be a chore. It is such a regular part of life that you should try your best to make it fun. Make mealtimes family times. This includes banning all technology from the table. Let it be the time when you catch up with what is going on in each other’s lives. Socializing with loved ones promotes mental as well as physical health.
- The kids will be alright – Children are incredibly adaptable creatures. They also tend to develop habits that continue into adulthood. Never use food as a reward. Control their sugar intake. Since they respond well to schedules, make sure meals are on time. Encourage them to take their time eating, and to concentrate on what is in their plates. Don’t force them to eat something they dislike. Instead, try preparing it in a different way and see if it works. Make sure they get enough water throughout the day.
- Plan beforehand – Healthy eating doesn’t need to be expensive. Planning your meals beforehand means you can take advantage of sales and discounts.
All good things come to those who wait. Take it slow and steady and you’ll soon see improvements. Over time, your family will develop your habits as well.
Good luck, and healthy, happy living to you!