Fill your family up with healthier food by using these tips from pediatric clinical dietitian Amanda Haney, MS, RD, CNSC, of MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
- Get halfway there. If you’re not confident cooking at home (generally healthier than eating out), consider services such as Blue Apron that deliver pre-prepped ingredients that you can just put together. “I was at Ralphs last week and they also had a section where you can order these meals,” Haney says. “It’s definitely a good way to start.”
- Start small. Don’t try to transform your family’s diet all at once. First, make small changes to things you already enjoy. If you eat spaghetti with meat sauce, substitute ground turkey for ground beef and whole-wheat pasta for white. Try whole-wheat tortillas for your burrito. If you use a slow cooker, search for healthy slow-cooker recipes to try.
- Make good food fun. Haney says the key to getting kids to eat more fruits and veggies is making it fun for them to experiment with these foods. Get creative with trips to the farmers market or choosing new options at the grocery store. But if your child still balks, don’t punish or make a big deal about it. “Parents determine what is served and when. The kids get to determine if they’re going to eat it,” Haney says.
- Plan your snacks. “Be intentional about it. Plan them like you would meals,” Haney says. Clear your cupboards of tempting unhealthy snacks. Get healthy snacks ready for kids to grab by cutting and bagging fruits and veggies and portioning nuts, whole-grain crackers and other snacks for convenience.
As you implement these changes, talk to your family and discuss what is working and what isn’t – then adjust accordingly. And if you slip? “Don’t give up,” Haney says. You can start again with your very next meal.