Tips for eating healthy as a family

Posted April 21

We try to eat healthy as a family, but there are often derailments where we lose sight and consider fruit snacks and Frosted Mini-Wheats as legitimate food groups.

In the last month or so, for example, it has been extra difficult to make mindful food choices. In my defense, I was staring down the insurmountable combination of Cadbury Mini Eggs and Girl Scout cookies infiltrating my home at the same time. No one can withstand those kind of “eat me” vibes coming from the pantry for a whole month.

But now that the enemy has been destroyed (and by destroyed, I mean eaten —even the backup boxes and “gifts for friends” pile), I am trying to refocus on healthy eating in our house.

I am particularly determined after watching a documentary on the amount of sugar our kids are inhaling through processed foods. I went through every item in my pantry after watching the documentary “Fed Up” and was mortified at how much added sugar was in the foods I thought were decently healthy for my kids.

We are not hardcore healthy food people at our house, nor do we follow any particular regiment of shakes or diets. But we have found that nixing as much processed food as possible makes a huge difference in our energy levels and our cravings for junk. We’ve also found a few tried-and-true measures that help us stay on track.

First, we have to prep or we’re sunk from day one. The biggest factor in whether we can eat healthy each week is if we cut up fruits and veggies to start the week. If the fridge is stocked with healthy alternatives in prepared containers, it’s easier to pick up one of them and not a processed snack. If it’s not, we opt for the convenience every time.

Second, we cook from scratch as often as possible. Before we had kids, we ate a ton of processed meals because it was easier and we were young and invincible. Now, we try to limit our eating out and processed foods that are loaded with salts and hidden sugars. We make homemade refried beans instead of using ones from a can. We make sure we can pronounce the ingredients we are using. We look for recipes that use food that actually looks like food. One website I use often is Real ingredients. Real food.

Then, we involve our kids. We let them help us chop, cook and pick healthy snacks. We talk about the food while we’re eating dinner, going around the table so each kid can name an ingredient we used.

Finally, we just don’t buy the tempting foods. The unfortunate truth is that I will eat it if it’s in the house. Those late night munchies will find me, and I know myself well enough to know the outcome of a choice between a pear and a Thin Mint at 10 p.m. But if I don’t put the junk food in the cart, the temptation is gone. Sure, I’ll still root around in the pantry for 30 minutes complaining about how we don’t have anything “good,” but in the end, I can’t eat junk that’s not there.

We’re definitely not perfect about our healthy eating. I have a pretty raging sweet tooth, and I love eating out. But we keep trying. We do it because we feel better when we do, and because we want to create good eating habits in our children while they are young.

And really, that’s the goal: to teach our children to care about what goes into their bodies — because they’re the only ones they get.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her 9-year-old and 5-year-old daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her.


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