Tip: Taking baby steps is the easiest way to introduce your family to healthier eating.
By the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group
As a parent, you always want what is best for your kids; but it can be hard to juggle work, kids’ schedules and other obligations, and still manage to plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks. Don’t feel guilty or discouraged for falling into a takeout or processed food rut. Baby steps make change manageable and achievable. This week we offer small suggestions that have a big impact on improving your family’s nutrition. Each baby step of progress will empower you to keep moving toward healthier family eating that will help you all feel your best.
Snacks that Nourish
For families with young children, snacks are a regular part of the daily rhythm – they bridge the gap between meals, keeping energy and moods lifted. But when children fill up on less-than-nourishing snack food, they are cheated out of real nutrition and won’t have an appetite for more nourishing foods at mealtime. Stick to veggies and fruits with a bit of protein and healthy fat for sustained energy. Avoid processed carbohydrates and added sugars, which offer empty calories and put children on an energy rollercoaster. Our Barbecue-Spiced Kale Chips are irresistible, easy to make, and so much more nutritious than potato chips or other typical snack food – and you’ll never have to worry that your kids are eating too much kale!
Wash it Down with Water
Stick with water at mealtimes – beverages like juice and soda are loaded with empty calories that offer no nutrition. Baby steps will make the switch to water easier. Try diluting your juice with water, or switch from soda to sparkling fruit juice, then sparkling flavored water, and finally sparkling water. A squirt of lemon or lime adds a fresh kick to water.
Nutrition Labels Are Your Friends
Rather than cutting out favorite foods entirely, look to nutrition labels for options that are more nourishing and contain less sugar and fewer artificial ingredients. For example, if your favorite yogurt contains excess added sugar, use nutrition labels to guide you in finding brands with less. Eventually, you may switch to plain yogurt with fresh or frozen berries, or try Greek yogurt, which has far more protein, as a replacement for regular yogurt.
Keep Fruits and Veggies Handy
The simple act of keeping a bowl of fruit on the counter and chopped veggies in the fridge increases your entire family’s consumption of fruits and veggies. You will always have quick, easy snacks and healthy additions to lunchboxes within reach.
Involve Children in Meal Planning
Young children love to be involved in household chores and they feel empowered when given their own responsibilities. Find age-appropriate ways for your children to help with family mealtimes. From meal planning and grocery shopping to prepping, cooking, serving and clean-up, the more involved they are the more excited they will be to eat the nourishing food you serve.
Small Goals Lead to Big Change
Managing the family menu is no small task – and making changes to the status quo can feel overwhelming. Instead of focusing on an optimal end result, look at change as a step-by-step process. Little changes here and there add up to big changes over time. Any baby step you take is an improvement on what you were doing before. Don’t be discouraged if you fall back into old patterns – just try again tomorrow. When you see your family eating and feeling better, you will be proud and motivated to keep moving toward healthy eating.
You will love the way you feel!
The Chef Marshall O’Brien Group is a dedicated assembly of professionals based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, committed to the goal of using nutrition to get kids and families to lead happier, healthier lives.