Raising a family can be a full time job. With school projects, soccer practice, swim meets, and dance recitals, it can leave very little time to educate and practice healthy eating and nutrition with your family. With every hour of the day filled with an activity or project, it can be tempting to turn to the drive through come dinnertime.
Not to mention, statistics aren’t on our side, as obesity in kids and teens continues to increase the past two decades. Obesity in children can lead to possible health problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. While you can’t control everything your family eats, you can help and encourage them when at home.
Here are some ideas and timesaving tips to fuel your family in a healthy and nutritious way:
• Use Sunday afternoon to prepare snacks and meals for the family. Chop fruit and veggies and put them in zip baggies for on-the-go snacks. Cook meats like chicken and ground turkey that can be cooked ahead of time for dinners throughout the week. Plan ahead to avoid turning to the drive-through!
• Sneak vegetables into meals by adding diced veggies like carrots, celery, onions, and peppers into ground meats that you’d use for tacos, spaghetti, or meatloaf.
• Let the kids help out! Invite your children to help you out on Sunday by letting them prepare a snack or two, so they’ll be more excited to enjoy it when it comes time to eat.
• Make quick and healthy – but fun – snacks for the kids, like ants on a log or Greek yogurt popsicles.
• Create healthy versions of favorites, like baked potato “fries” for French fries, frozen Greek yogurt with muesli for ice cream with sprinkles, or baked chicken with whole wheat bread crumbs for fried chicken.
• Add frozen fruit to a large pitcher of water for the next couple days so the fruity taste encourages the family to drink up!
• Make mealtime fun for children by making smiley faces with their food, a rainbow out of fruits and veggies, or making fruit kebabs using fruit like bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple.
• Make a big batch of oatmeal and whole grain pancakes for the week. Heat, top with fruit, and eat on rushed mornings.
• Keep low sugar cereal and organic milk on hand for breakfasts on mornings when you’re short on time.
• Make family dinners a ritual. Having a structure when it comes to the evening mealtime gets everyone in the family on the same page about what to expect for dinner.
In addition to decreasing the risk of obesity, healthy eating can help keep children’s energy levels stable, keep their minds sharp, and limit moodiness and temper tantrums.
Since most families live busy lives, and are away from home during the day, make the most of the meals you have at home – breakfast and dinner – by planning ahead, having regular mealtimes, and making mealtime fun!