Why is it that we moms spend hours, weeks, months researching the best schools and summer camps, finding the best Christmas presents and birthday gifts, scoping out the best flat screen TVs, but we want to cook dinner in a quick 20 minutes. Think about it: we sign our children up for multiple activities when they are small so they can get into college, but we don’t teach them two simple skills they will need for their whole life — healthy eating and cooking.
It’s not really all our fault. Our culture serves kids white entrées with blue desserts, and promises instant gratification, and who are we to fight that? It can even be hard for the healthiest of moms.
Well what if we took it on?
Here are 5 tools for healthy eating – for everyone, every day, led by mom:
- Simplify your schedule. It is really hard to make space for healthy eating if your life is one long string of events — soccer, violin, Lego club. Think about your life today: What do you use more frequently – food or a soccer ball? Analyze your schedule, and let go of something that is not really serving you or your kids. The goal is to gain a few hours in the week when you can happily be at home as a family enjoying time together in the kitchen.
- Plan for healthy food. Planning meals, snacks, and other eats for the week saves you money, time, and frustration. You buy only what you need and don’t waste food or time – and it also allows you to delegate! And when it comes to making meals each night, you don’t have that moment of drawing an absolute blank. Planning fosters a good rhythm throughout the week that keeps every tummy happy and well-fed. Commit 30 minutes to making a meal plan each weekend for the coming week.
- Be a role model. If you complain about not liking a certain food, or are always angry when it comes time to cook dinner, what message are you sending to your kids? Kids are like sponges, absorbing and modeling adult behaviors from the youngest ages right through young adulthood. They may not want your green smoothie every morning, but they will associate green with their healthy mom, and will be more open to green foods at other moments. When they see you in the kitchen, they want to be there too, so give them age-appropriate tasks, so they can learn to navigate their way in a kitchen and cook for you someday. Write down three healthy habits that you can model for your kids and commit to one this week.
- Ask lots of questions about the food you buy and read labels. Every mom, dad and child should understand what they are really eating, and the way to do that is to read labels and ask lots of questions. Try not to buy any packaged foods whose label has ingredients you can’t pronounce or recognize as a food, even with a package labeled as organic! Ask lots of questions like where the fish came from, and whether the fruit was sprayed. Find out what went into your food so you know what’s going into your body, and encourage your kids to do the same. Start a list on your fridge of labels that you have read and approve of, and ones that you don’t.
- Talk about food with your kids. Start to talk to your kids about food – about the color of the foods on your plates, about how they know whether they are hungry or full, how they feel after eating a particular food, about ads that they are drawn to, and what happens at school lunch. Educating our children through simple conversations helps them make healthier choices on their own, whether at school, friends’ homes, or events – and that’s knowledge that lasts a lifetime.
Making big changes can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Choose one healthy thing to commit to this week. Maybe you plan out meals for one week or read the labels of 5 favorite snack foods. Commit to and do that one thing for a week. Then next week add one more. Keep moving yourself toward the healthier life you want – for yourself and your family. Visit plansimplemeals.com for up-to-date offerings and FREE resources to move forward on your healthy journey.