I'm happy to have another guest blogger on the site, Dylan from Health Well Wise. He's got some great tips for feeding your family this summer. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
It’s easy to forget, but our diet directly impacts our mental health. When you’re eating healthy food, your body feels good. And when you feel good, it’s easier to handle stress and difficulty. Here are a few simple tips to help you and your family start eating healthier today.
1. Combine convenience and health
Convenience food, like fast food or meals that are highly processed and don’t require preparation, have been shown by national nutrition studies to be the reason that weight gain and obesity are such a problem. When kids come home from school and they want a snack, their first impulse is to eat whatever is available at the moment. Prepare or purchase snacks that are healthy and tasty and meet your child’s nutritional needs. Getting rid of the unhealthy snacks in your home will also make it easier to avoid temptation.
2. Eat together
Eating as a family can help everyone stay on the same page with food instead of snacking and opting for less-healthful options. According to The Atlantic, research has shown that families that eat dinner together can reduce the risk of their kids having drug or alcohol problems, help children’s grades, and promote more tight-knit families. Try to eat together at least three times a week, and do it more frequently as time goes on.
3. Dine early
This may be surprising, but some scientific reports indicate that the time of day you eat could have just as much impact as what you eat when it comes to weight maintenance. Eat more food earlier in the day during breakfast and lunch. It’ll lessen the temptation to indulge yourself. You’ll feel more satisfied throughout the day. It can also be good for your heart.
4. Encourage positive food psychology
The way that food is described or even named can have a profound influence on a person’s desire to eat it. Avoid labeling food in negative ways. Instead, encourage everyone to enjoy “yummy” or “treat” foods that are also good for them. This can encourage your family, especially your kids, to think about food in a positive way, and it might help picky eaters open up to new foods.
5. Creatively up veggie intake
Research from scientists at Penn State has shown that adding vegetables to children’s favorite meals helped them double their vegetable intake and reduce the total number of calories they consumed. You don’t have to hide the fact that veggies were added. Be open with your family, and look for creative ways to add vegetables to favorite dishes.
6. Get family participation
When the family has a part to play in preparing a meal, they can take pride in the portion that they made. Kids who prepare food are more likely to eat the food they created. Some duties might not be right for a 3-year-old, but there’s almost always a way you can find a job suitable for each member of the family. Not only will it reduce the time required to prepare meals, but it can also be an experience that brings everyone closer together.
7. Plan your meals
You don’t have to plan everything all at once in tremendous detail. Work things out by categorizing foods into meals. Then, you can purchase ingredients that fit into those categories. This gives you flexibility to cook what you want based on what’s available. It also offers you a chance to serve up dishes with your own preferences in mind.
Eating healthy will massively benefit your emotional and physical health. Be easy on yourself, and take time to improve your diet. It will strengthen your family ties as you work together to eat healthy and delicious food. It also will allow you to enjoy the energy and benefits that a healthy lifestyle brings.