There are many ways to incorporate a healthier lifestyle for you and your family that doesn’t include drastic changes. Some of these tips include cooking at home, making healthful choices when eating out, making sure you and your child are drinking enough water and participating in some sort of physical activity. You don’t have to give up every food you and your family enjoy. You also don’t need to get a gym membership to keep your family healthy. There are many small, daily things you can incorporate for a healthier life.

Benefits of Cooking At Home

One way to incorporate healthful habits is by cooking at home. Cooking at home has many benefits including being cost-effective, allowing you to customize amounts of sugar, salt, fat, and making it even more delicious. It may seem overwhelming to plan meals and go to the grocery store all the time, but it doesn’t have to be. In addition, including children in the kitchen can be a great activity to help children become more interested in cooking, increase exposure to a variety of foods, and develop long-term beneficial skills (such as food safety, math, and science). Pre-school aged children can help with tactile chores in the kitchen such as washing produce, hand-tearing lettuce, mashing bananas or cooled potatoes, mixing and gathering ingredients and cleaning up. School-aged children can help with previously mentioned as well as measuring ingredients, peeling oranges or boiled eggs, and even with using some kid-safe appliances with adult supervision like adding ingredients to a blender.

When shopping for grocery items, here are some simple tips.

  1. Take advantage of purchasing sale items to help with cost-savings.
  2. Buy in bulk when appropriate to save on time going to the store.
  3. Choose more nutrient-dense ingredients.

For example, if you are preparing a pot of chili for your family, you may typically include ground protein, tomato paste and sauce, spices, and kidney beans. Adding diced carrots, sweet potatoes, and even bell peppers can make this meal more nutritious and delicious. Perhaps you also have an extra can of garbanzo beans in the pantry that can add more protein and fiber to your chili. Be sure to check your vegetable drawer or freezer and dice up vegetables from a previous meal as a great measure to also help reduce food waste.

How to Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out

Not everyone has the capacity to prepare meals for their family at home on a regular basis and including healthful practices while eating out may seem like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be.

  • Plan ahead and take time to review the menu for healthy alternatives and substitutions while considering what your children will be likely to eat.

For example your child may not eat a salad but perhaps instead of a fried food you substitute that with a grilled version.

  • Consider what you can add to your meals while eating out. Practicing healthful eating does not always mean subtracting items from your regular meals. For example, if you are having a BBQ, you can include a side of roasted vegetables with your baked potato or choose dishes that include mixed vegetables such as chicken fajitas. For your child, encourage them to choose foods that will fill them up and fuel them. Encourage overall balance to help ensure children can enjoy a variety of foods in moderation.
Small Changes Can Make A Difference

With so many diets and fads and a hyperfocus on weight loss in the media, it can be hard and overwhelming to set goals for yourself, let alone be a good example of how to be healthy for your kids.

  • Instead of focusing on making drastic changes, focus on small day-to-day changes which are more sustainable for long-term health. For example, if joining a gym and doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts twice a week sounds overwhelming, try taking a walk around your neighborhood after work and bring your kids along.
  • Increase your water intake and make sure your child always has a water bottle with them, especially if they are playing sports.
  • Include body movement for at least 30 minutes throughout each day for adults. Children should aim for 60 minutes of active play every day.

One of the best practices adults can have is being good role models and making healthful habits a part of everyday life. Try making one small change for better nutrition throughout the month of March for National Nutrition Month and maybe it will turn into a daily habit. Before you know it you will be creating healthy habits for both yourself and your family.