06 Mar 10 Tips for Eating Healthy As A Family
With March being National Nutrition Month, we asked our Registered Pediatric Dietitian, Marisa Persky, for tips on how families can eat healthier together. Thanks to her and her sources at eatright.org, we were able to compile a list of small changes you can make with your family that will have a big impact on your body’s nutrition!
- Cook more, dine out less. This one’s simple- When you cook your own food, you control exactly what goes into it (and how much!) This is also a way to cut down on expenses- Most of the time, three home-cooked meals for your family will be still cheaper than dining out a sit-down restaurant. Even if you are cooking items that usually cost a bit more, like steak or seafood, you can save these home-cooked meals for special occasions, or have them once a week as an alternative to eating out.
- Remember: You don’t always have to give up the foods your family enjoys! Sometimes it’s a matter of just finding ways to make them a bit healthier than they normally would be. For instance, top your family’s pizzas with veggies. You can still satisfy your sweet tooth but do so in moderation. Rather than each member of your family eating their own dessert, order a large portion for the table with multiple spoons/forks, and split one!
- Plan ahead. If you know your family will be going out to dinner or to a social event that will serve food, consider having a lighter breakfast/lunch. Snacking is okay, too. Provide small, healthy snacks for your family, like fruits and veggies, granola bars, or low-sodium mixed nuts!
- Make and enjoy smoothies together. Replace salty and sugary snacks with a healthier alternative- A smoothie made with 100% juice, fruit, and low-fat yogurt. You can make them with your kids, and even make it into a fun game by having them select which fruits they’d like in their smoothie that day!
- Portion control. Never force yourself or your children to finish a meal when you or they are full. Instead of telling your child to finish their meal, you can ask them to eat the healthier options on their plate first- “How about you eat a few pieces of broccoli before you start on your pasta?” If you know that you tend to eat even after you are full, order a smaller portion of your dish if available (lunch-sized or some meals can be served as a side dish), or split a meal with each other. And remember: There’s no shame in a to-go box!
- Drink more water, and less soda and sugary drinks. We know it can be easier said than done, but cutting down on flavored/sugary drinks has many benefits- from your grocery bill to your calorie count! It also has several health benefits, like helping clear up skin, it may reduce your risk of heart problems or diabetes, stomach and kidney issues, and your dentist will thank you! Make it a goal to practice this as a family- Don’t even buy flavored drinks at the grocery store, or cut down by providing it to your kids as a “treat” only on special occasions.
- Study the menu and look for certain words. Before deciding where to eat, browse menus and compare options. Many restaurants now have a “healthy options” section on their menu! Anything that is baked, grilled, roasted, braised, or steamed is usually a healthier option than crispy, fried, buttered, creamed, or breaded- Keep this in mind when ordering for yourself and for your kids.
- Utilize substitutions. These days, many dishes- especially sandwiches- come with fries. Ask for a side salad or baked potato instead. Many places also offer fruit cups as a side for kids.
- Hold the bread. For restaurants that put bread out on the table while you are waiting for your meal, ask them to hold off on bringing it until your food is brought out. That way, you and your family don’t fill up on bread, and you will be able to enjoy your meal. You also may find yourself eating less of it this way, as you probably won’t want as much bread when your main dish is in front of you. Bread that is not whole grain is a simple carbohydrate, and too much of it is not good for your body.
- Watch the toppings. Order dressings, toppings, and sauces on the side when you can. This will make you more aware of how much of it you are putting on your meal, and you will have full control over the portion size.