Are you trying to eat healthier but having difficulty getting the whole family on board? If so, you’re not alone.
As a registered dietitian, I’m acutely aware of the challenges that families face. From stress and busy work schedules to budget constraints and limited food accessibility, many obstacles can get in the way of healthier habits.
1. Avoid labeling foods as off-limits
While some ingredients are certainly more nutritious than others, it’s important to foster a healthy relationship with food by avoiding language like “bad” or “off-limits.”
Plus, being too restrictive can create stress and tension around mealtimes. Instead, take this advice from Aubrey Redd, MS, dietitian, and owner of Aubrey Redd Nutrition:
“Don’t treat any food as off-limits. All foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle within moderation. Consider using the language of ‘always’ foods and ‘sometimes foods. Fruits and vegetables are always a great option for snacks, but you only have birthday cake sometimes when it’s someone’s birthday.”
2. Make meal prep a priority
One of the most common hurdles I hear from families is a lack of time to prepare home-cooked meals and snacks.
While it may seem like a large time commitment, setting aside an hour or two to prep a batch of meals and snacks can save you time during the week.The first step toward making meal prep a priority is examining your schedule and blocking off a designated meal prep time.
3. Eat together
Eating together as a family — without distractions — has numerous benefits, healthier eating habits, promoting bonding, and aiding social and emotional development
Furthermore, studies show that kids of families that eat together tend to eat less fast food and more fruits and vegetables
There are benefits for adults, too. One study found that parents who participate in family dinners have higher levels of self-esteem and lower rates of depression and stress
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