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7 Tips to Improve Your Family’s Eating Habits

Do you have a hard time finding healthy foods that the whole family will eat? You're not alone!

Family meal planning can be stressful, especially if you're looking to make better choices and improve your health. But take heart! There are many ways to incorporate healthier foods into your routine without too much stress or resistance from your loved ones. While it may require some adjustment, the health and wellness benefits are worth it, including:

  • Improved overall health
  • Weight loss/reduced obesity risk
  • Reduced risk for chronic conditions and other health problems
  • Valuable life lessons
  • A shared sense of accomplishment with your loved ones

We'll explore a few different ways to encourage wellness and incorporate healthier meals into your routine, prepared at home and while on the go.

1. Plan to have at least one home-cooked meal per day

Home cooking is a great way to ensure that your family eats well, but it can be difficult with everyone's hectic schedule. Fast food and pre-packaged snacks often lack nutritional value and are high in fats and sugars. These fats and sugars paired with preservatives that are saturated with salt can slow down your metabolism and cause prolonged damage if consumed too often. However, planning and cooking meals at home can ensure a balanced diet.

If you plan one meal per day where the entire family eats at home together, this will not only provide more opportunities for healthy food choices, but also allows time for quality conversation and strengthens relationships within the household.

Research has shown that families who eat together are more likely to have healthy eating habits than families that don't. Kids who eat meals with their family are also less likely to smoke or drink alcohol.

2. Let family members be a part of the planning process

All family members should have input into what foods are served at mealtimes. Family members should feel they have a say in what is being served and be allowed to choose from the available options.

This will help children learn how to make healthy choices on their own when it's time for them to cook or eat without supervision. Family mealtimes provide life-long benefits, so take advantage of this opportunity!

3. Supporting Loved Ones and Their Diagnoses

Positive reinforcement and positive talk about making healthier decisions can really help motivate your family to support one another, especially if a member of your family has certain medical conditions that require food restrictions, such as diabetes, any gastrointestinal conditions (such as IBS), or chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Healthy eating is crucial with CKD and diabetes, and it's often difficult to maintain good habits when one's family doesn't accommodate their dietary restrictions. There is strength in numbers, and if you tackle healthy eating together, everyone has a greater chance for success.

4. Create a treats & sweets allowance:

Meal planning can feel restrictive to kids and other family members. One way to empower your family to eat better is to give them choices. With a treats & sweets allowance, everyone can "spend" how they'd like, as long as they don't exceed their allowance. This practice can help not only instill healthy eating habits, but also the principles of self-control, decision-making, and prioritization.

5. Stock the shelves with healthy snacks

When preparing a family meal plan, it's important to stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy snack options that your family can grab to stay healthy and fit while on the go. When the kids get home from school and practice, they can reach for a protein bar or fruit and cheese plate. If you plan on having family members over to watch sports games, make sure there are plenty of healthy options like nuts, a veggie tray, or popcorn made without oil or butter substitutes.

Adding these snack items helps your family stay energized while making good decisions about what they put in their bodies.

6. Try to replace mindless snacking with other family activities

Most people are guilty of mindlessly eating on occasion. To limit this habit, try to replace your snacking with other activities.

Instead of grabbing a bag of chips, try using the time you would spend eating as an opportunity for quality family time. For example, play board games or cards, or settle in for a family movie night. Family members can also engage in fun activities like creating art, playing games, or exercising together.

7. Incorporate family exercise routines into your week

Speaking of exercise, this is another important part of family meal planning. Whether you each have your own exercise routine or you plan one together, physical activity can aid a balanced diet in your health.

Take a fitness class, or play kickball, softball, or soccer together at a local park. You can even start simple by taking a family walk each night before or after dinner. Help your family members understand the importance of a regular exercise routine, as well as a healthy eating plan.

Join a Virtual race and log miles together. Using an app like Yes.Fit will keep you motivated and when you complete the race you get awesome rewards.

Stay encouraged!

Adjusting to a new way of life may be difficult for some members of your family. We often feel like we've lost some of our freedom and some of the things we love about life when we practice new habits. Learning self-discipline is important to prepare your family for life, and what better way to learn than to learn it together?

Remember, keep your family's unique needs, preferences, and lifestyle in mind. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for eating well as a family. This experience should be empowering to every member of your family, so do your best to cater your plan to each member's needs.

About the Author

Jenny Hart

Jenny Hart is a contributor author on behalf of Jenny has been a health/wellness writer for five years and covers content that ranges to healthy eating habits to managing chronic illness.

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