Do you find it hard to make healthy eating choices? Do you battle cravings for sugary, caffeinated or processed foods? Does healthy eating seem unattractive or too difficult to you?
Making healthy choices is about taking the time to stop and think about what you are about to fuel your and your families bodies with.
The healthy choice may not always be what you want in the moment, or the most convenient or the cheapest but it will always pay off and your body will thank you for it!
I say this however in context of the every day meals and snacks we choose to eat and provide for those around us. Moderation is key with all things and this includes enjoying a special meal, dessert, drink or snack on special occasions and enjoying it!
Remember the reason for healthy eating shouldn't be motivated by fear or insecurity but by a desire to experience what a naturally strong and healthy body and mind can feel like and to enjoy every day to its full! And for your family it is ensuring they grow up with a healthy and wholesome approach to food, and that they are given the best chance in life to grow healthy and strong bodies and minds.
It has been said that the best place to say no to something is once, and at the shops. If you think something isn't the healthiest choice for you or your family, say no to putting it in your trolley once and you'll be saved the trouble of saying no to it 100 times at home or having to say no 100 times to your kids. If you don't want to eat it, don't buy it.
Here are a few tips on how to make the healthy choices when shopping, buying, ordering or choosing what to eat.
- if you've decided to eat in a specific manner (i.e. Gluten, sugar or dairy free) then does what you're about to buy or eat work in line with that?
- Is this the healthiest choice? Will it fuel my body or just put something on my stomach?
- Do I need this? Or do I need another one of this? (I.e. Piece of cake, chocolate bar, coffee etc)
- Is there a fresher option available?
- Is this a whole food?
- Is there a whole grain or wholemeal version of this?
- Does this have any unnecessary additives in it? Ingredients or chemicals I don't understand?
- Is this Australian grown or made?
- Is there a natural, unsweetened or unprocessed version of this? I.e. Honey, yoghurt.
- Does this have fresh ingredients in it? I.e. Are there vegetables included or is it mostly or only meat and carbs?
For your family:
- Especially for little children it is important that they eat as whole and as natural as possible as their little bodies and systems can't process additives and foreign ingredients as well as adults bodies do.
- Children will eat and drink what they see you eating and drinking so if for the most part we desire them to enjoy healthy eating then they need to see that modelled.
- Big companies design foods in bright and attractive packaging so children will ask their parents to buy it for them. A tip I heard a doctor say recently was remove all packed foods such as cereals and biscuits from the boxes or wrappers and store in plain jars in the pantry. The fun and excitement will be taken out of the eating those things. He did this with his children but with the 'healthy' foods such as oats so they simply learnt that was the breakfast food in their house.
- Always have fresh fruit and veggies ready to eat and on hand. We take mandarines, small apples and bananas with us everywhere for when the snack attack strikes. That's the option, and we don't buy snacks out unless they are things like raw balls or freshly made smoothies. Sushi also makes a great on the go snack for kids.
- If you like to visit cafes regularly, pack your own food snacks for the little ones but buy them a drink like a green smoothie or some plain warm milk. My little one loves her warm milk in a take away cup 'like mummy' and doesn't need chocolate or marshmallows on top. I think though why this works is because she's not had chocolate or marshmallows before...so for now she's happy with the plain milk!
- Make it fun that they are eating and drinking well, and if you are doing the same you'll find they like doing it too! (My daughters recent thing is eating grapefruit at breakfast because I have been and when she first spat it out I said "oh no but it's so yummy!! Look mummy loves grapefruit!" And she tried it again and now wants a 'big orange' every breakfast!)
- Give them the options you want them to choose from. If you don't want them to eat cake for morning tea, don't offer it as an option, simply choose a range of foods you would be happy with them eating and let them decide (if they're at that age) from those.
- Involve them in the process. It doesn't have to be going to the farmers markets or being a part of your food shop necessarily but when you're washing, preparing, chopping or baking healthy things let them help and they will want to eat the outcome! Once they are old enough, get them to choose a few easy to prepare veggies for their own lunch or dinner and set them up with a child friendly knife and chopping board and get them to be in charge of their own meal prep. I read this in Madeline West's book 'Six Under Eight' and it is a great idea!
If you are interested in learning about making healthy choices for your family and just how ready and willing children can be if offered the right food options, a great documentary is 'The Kids Menu' on Netflix.