Eating Healthy: 11 Food Rules for Families
Eating Healthy is on almost every adult's New Year's Resolution wish list, accompanied by a resolution to feed your family healthier. As far as resolutions go, it can be one of the easiest to keep. After all, it's not that specific of a goal, and after a few weeks of consciously making healthier choices, these choices become habits. Especially if those choices are simple, sustainable, and easy to remember.
The most important rule to keep in mind when feeding yourself and your family on your journey to eating healthy comes from chef and author Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules: An Eater's Manual: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." These seven words can guide you to make better food choices for yourself and your family. Another of his rules, "When you eat real food, you don't need rules", underscores his idea that eating doesn't have to be complicated.
It's easy to guide your family toward eating healthy when you keep the idea of offering them "real" food in mind. Here are 15 tips to help you make healthier, smarter choices for yourself and your family to create better eating habits for life.
- Eat real food: Don't eat anything with ingredients you can't pronounce.
- Keep portions in mind: When you unpack groceries, separate large, family-size bags of snack foods into small, kid-sized portions before putting them away. For bigger kids and adults, that may mean the full recommended portion size on the container, but for little kids, go smaller to avoid over-snacking and food waste.
- Eat a rainbow: Make every plate you serve colorful with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. If you take a good look at the food pyramid, you'll notice that half of the foods you eat each day should be fruits and vegetables. While a starchy dinner of chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes has a dull palate, a healthy, colorful lunch can substitute the potatoes with grapes and baby carrots for the same price and less effort.
- Cool it off with veggies: Instead of an ice cube, throw a handful of frozen corn, peas, or petite diced vegetables into foods to cool them off. This works perfectly with meals like mac & cheese, soup, chili, and spaghetti and meatballs.
- Have a pre-dinner happy hour: Close the kitchen an hour before mealtime for anything but fruits and vegetables. It won't matter whether your kids eat all their veggies before dinner or with dinner, as long as they get their healthy foods in! If your child is really hungry, he will eat an apple. If not, he can wait for dinner.
- Follow the rule of the fist: One serving of meat should be roughly the size of your heart, which, coincidentally, is also the size of your fist. Keep the "rule of the fist" in mind for optimal digestion and nutrition.
- Everything tastes better on a stick: Food cut into bite-sized pieces and served with toothpicks or speared on a kebab is more fun to eat!
- Kick the cans: Add your family's favorite juice to a glass of plain seltzer for a fun, fizzy, healthier, and less expensive alternative to canned soda.
- Snack smarter: Take advantage of mindless snacking habits and set out a bowl of carrots and ranch dressing, baby tomatoes, cut cucumbers, or celery sticks while your kids are doing homework or watching TV.
- Presentation is everything: Food disappears more quickly when it's cut up into bite-sized pieces and set out in an inviting way. A bowl of apples may sit on the table for a week, but an apple cut into slices and placed on the table will be gobbled up very quickly.
- Let kids play with their food: Set out a rice cracker spread with nut butter, cream cheese or their favorite spread and hand them cut fruits and vegetables to decorate it before eating.
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This writer is a part of the FamilyEducation editorial team. Our team is comprised of parents, experts, and content professionals dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and relevant information in the parenting space.