This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
When you establish healthy eating habits for the entire family you are setting a great example for your children. It would be hypocritical, after all, if we encourage our children to have something healthy while we’re consuming junk food. So how do you go about doing this? And is one method more effective than others?
3 Ways to Get Your Family On Board with Healthy Eating
Have you ever found yourself preparing different meals for each member of the family? Granted, in our home, this is necessary as Sweet B has particular and set tastes. I still try to encourage her to eat outside of her norms, but she has her preferences and I honor that. For her, it’s not always about taste- sometimes it’s about texture.
Some people may wonder why you should even bother getting everyone in the family on board with healthy eating. Here are some reasons why it’s nice to have a common view of foods among family members:
* It’s less frustrating and stressful for the cook and grocery shopper if everyone agrees and eats healthy foods. It’s also easier on the wallet – you don’t have to buy several different foods.
* You have a support network in place in case you have trouble keeping your healthy eating habits, or if you need help with the grocery shopping. If everyone’s in agreement about what’s healthy and what isn’t, any family member can run to the store and buy the healthy options.
* There is just a lot more harmony when mealtimes are not filled with frustration and complaining.
There’s no magic formula for getting everyone to agree on what’s healthy and actually care about it, but there are little things you can do. Here are some ideas.
4 Tips for Establishing Healthy Eating Habits for Your Family
It’s been shown that serving a previously-rejected food over and over, in different forms, may result in eventual acceptance. This applies to children and spouses.
2. Veggies in disguise
You can hide vegetables in a lot of things, although this does not necessarily promote health awareness among family members. It might, though, once you tell them that the spaghetti sauce had pureed carrots and squash in it, or that the pizza had finely chopped broccoli sprinkled on it. They may find that they like veggies after all. Here are some more tips for hiding veggies:
* Put jarred spaghetti sauce into the blender and add some raw or steamed veggies of your choice; blend until smooth. You can use this “doctored” spaghetti sauce for pizza sauce, too.
* Add finely-chopped veggies to pizza topping. Spinach, broccoli, green peppers, and onions are good ones to try.
* Make a stir fry! Stir fry is so easy to put together and you can put in some fun new vegetables like sugar snap peas or baby Bok choy.
3. Small steps
There’s no need to be a member of the food police – you don’t have to go through the house and throw out every unhealthy thing and replace it with healthy foods. That may create rebellion among the family members! Instead, start with one thing, like bread. Start making your own bread, or switch to whole wheat store-bought bread. Then you can move on to another item, like switching from peanut butter with added sugar and fat to natural peanut butter.
4. Encourage participation
Spouses and kids can learn to cook and shop for food together. Maybe your spouse likes to cook out; ask him or her to make some special, healthy meals on the grill. You and your kids could grow some of your own food together – even one or two veggies your kids help grow should encourage them to eat “their” vegetables. Let your kids help you in the kitchen (as far as is practical), and brag on their efforts at the table.
Involve them in the shopping process or in the preparation as well. Older kids can chop vegetables for a salad while younger kids can help you with washing.
If you have children of multiple ages (toddlers, preschoolers, elementary, or teens) let your older children be the role model.
More than 400 youth have been trained in the “Teens as Teachers” model through the Food Smart Families program. The program engages youth at a critical age for gaining skills and establishing behaviors that become sustainable, healthy habits for their families and communities tomorrow.
Since 2011, 4H and UnitedHealthcare have partnered together to deliver healthy living programs in 14 states to more than 340,000 children and their families. The 4H Smart Food Families program teaches families to plan, shop, and prepare healthy meals on a budget.
And in case you’re wondering, this program has been highly effective and beneficial to participating families.
The program engages youth at a critical age for gaining skills and establishing behaviors that become sustainable, healthy habits for their families and communities tomorrow.
There have been positive changes in youth behavior as a result of 4‑H Food Smart families:
- 90% of youth participants now think being active is fun and good for fitness
- 89% now encourage their families to eat meals together
- 87% said their families have purchased healthier foods
- 86% now eat fruit for a snack over unhealthier options
How do you encourage your children to make healthier food choices?
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