Saturday, March 24, 2012

Are You Too Exhausted to Battle Healthy Eating?

As we round out National Nutrition Month, let's talk about the effect that raising healthy eaters can have on us.

We're all in the same boat.  We're exhausted.  We are constantly torn between the convenience of fast food and healthy cooking at home.  Some nights the battle is just too big to fight.  And by the way, how long does that journey take?  If you embarked on a healthy lifestyle today, when would you see results?

These are tough questions, but perhaps I can share some insight based on my personal experience.  Raising healthy eaters is one of the most important things you can do for your kids.  Once you make the decision, give yourself a year to make the transition.  Within two years your kids will forget what the McDonald's drive thru looks like.

The problem with healthy eating is much like that of dieting.  We want instant results and often give up right before we start to see the successes.

Our family's journey toward healthy eating started out rocky.  I didn't know what to cook or how to cook it.  My time in the produce section consisted of bananas and strawberries - nothing else.  I had one cookbook - Betty Crocker.  I would occasionally try new recipes but the kids would never try it.  I felt alone and frustrated.

Within a year of starting the journey, we had cut our fast food bill in half.  We were planning out our meals.  Not every meal was a success with the kids, but we confidently added 20+ healthy recipes to our dinner plan and had phased out 75% of the processed and frozen food.

Within two years we had even more healthy dishes in the mix, the kids were helping in the kitchen, buying produce from the farmers market was a given, McDonald's didn't hit the radar, and most of our time was spent in the produce aisle at the grocery store.

Here are a few things that helped us in the first year:

  • Removed the junk food from the house.  Snack cakes, chips, and cookies are a thing of the past.  The kids now snack on fruit, popcorn, low sodium string cheese, and multi grain crackers.  
  • Pop Tarts and Fruity Pebbles are gone and over time have been forgotten.  Kids eat what you buy.   We just stopped buying sugary breakfast cereal.  We now do eggs, oatmeal, fruit, or plain cheerios.  
  • We transitioned from white bread to white/wheat bread and then eventually to whole wheat/whole grain bread.  This took a few months to complete. 
  • We made the move from Vitamin D milk to 2% and now 1%.  Surprisingly this had no impact on the kids.  Just took the adults a little getting used to.  
  • We stopped buying canned vegetables and invested in a steamer for fresh vegetables.  
  • Smaller juice boxes (4oz) were purchased and were limited to one or two a day.  We started to give new choices for drinks: water or milk.  I have found that having a choice is more important than the drink itself.  
  • Meal prep, planning, and organization became key.  I started to feel more confident and ready to tackle healthy dinners.  Unfortunately for us, there weren't a lot of tools to help so I spent a lot of time learning and experimenting on my own.  Hence our creation of Healthy Kids Inc so that you can effortlessly master this step.  

So if you feel like climbing Mt Everest may be easier than tackling healthy eating...think again.  You can do this.  Just give yourself some time and be patient.  Work to make one positive change per week- introduce a new food or switch to a healthier product.  Don't give up.

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