Beginning to eat a healthier diet is a challenge on its own. Factoring in picky kids and spouses can increase the challenge exponentially.
A lot of moms are concerned about how to make healthy meals that are aligned with their weight loss goals while still providing tasty and nutritious meals for the rest of the family. Most moms don’t want to be making multiple meals to satisfy the kids and spouse while still addressing their own needs. This article serves to help you figure out how to transition your family to healthier meals without causing an uproar.
Get Them Involved
Making kids a part of the process will make them feel important and more likely to be cooperative. There are lots of ways to do this:
- Sit down with them to build a master grocery list of healthy foods that everyone or nearly everyone will eat. These foods can become the base of future healthy meals. (The food lists provided in the Body Transformation Guide are a great place to start.)
- Don’t let your dislikes become theirs. If they’re open to trying a healthy food that you don’t care for, buy it anyway.
- Have them help you pick out recipes to try each week.
- When you’re at the grocery store, let kids help pick out and bag the produce.
- Have them join you while you cook and explain to them the process of making a healthy meal. – Enlist their help for kitchen tasks such as putting away groceries, helping you find ingredients in the fridge or pantry, washing produce, measuring ingredients, making spice blends, or putting together a salad.
- If they’re older, have each child plan and help cook a meal one night per week using specific healthy foods that you choose.
- One at a time, teach them about food groups, vitamins, and minerals. Let them pick as a snack a food they like or tolerate that contains the vitamin or mineral.
- During meal times, explaining the health benefits of the new foods that you are incorporating into your diet. Greens might get a lot more appealing if kids make the connection that they’ll help them get big and strong like their favorite athlete.
Take Baby Steps
Rather than overhauling everyone’s diets overnight, start with the healthy foods that the kids already enjoy and gradually introduce fruits, veggies, and other unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods with meals and snacks.
Continue to try introducing one or two new healthy foods each week. Keep a running list of where your “wins” have come from so that you can continue to cycle those foods into your weekly meals.
Try the same foods more than once as the repetition may help kids come around to eventually liking them or at least eating them without a fight.
Keep meals simple by taking a mix-and-match approach. Batch cook foods separately so that each family member can put together their own healthy, balanced meal based on personal preferences. This gives everyone some autonomy and sure beats spending time and energy making an elaborate recipe that certain family members won’t eat because of one ingredient.
Sneaking veggies and other healthy foods into dishes or making simple swaps in ways that may sneak by undetected is a useful tactic, as well. Try these:
- Replace traditional wheat pasta with edamame pasta, chickpea pasta, or zoodles
- Add some parsnip, carrot, or cauliflower to mashed potatoes
- Mix pureed spinach into pancake batter for Hulk Cakes
- Try a mix of cauliflower rice and regular rice
- Blend extra veggies into soups or shakes
- Sneak finely chopped veggies into tomato or pizza sauce
- Chop up spinach and use it like a garnish
- Experiment with different dips and spices that might make raw veggies more edible
Cutting fruits and veggies into fun shapes can make them a lot more appealing. Try ants on a log, making fruit Santas on a stick, or making anything resemble Mickey Mouse.
Treating healthy foods like “forbidden adult foods” may make the kids want them even more. Then they can feel like they won when you “allow” them to eat some of your healthy food.
Remember that you are the adult in this scenario (I know, how did that happen?!).
Many moms start off with making a healthy, balanced meal for the adults and then another kid-friendly meal. You can’t be surprised that they’re not reaching for the broccoli when dinosaur nuggets are an option, too.
Make one meal and make it clear that if they would like to eat them they eat what you have made. Often times, picky eaters have been allowed to become so. They won’t starve themselves so don’t give in to them demanding certain nutrient-void foods. You are making these changes for their own good, so as hard as it may be to be authoritative, it will be worth it.
Consider cutting back on after school snacks to make sure they have an appetite at dinner. It’s a lot harder to be picky when you’re actually hungry.
Getting kids to eat healthy foods will likely be a process. You don’t throw in the towel on your own weight loss efforts if you haven’t succeeded after a week or two. Don’t give up on trying to transition your kids to a healthier diet.
Stay patient with them and yourself and celebrate all the small wins along the way. Even if they don’t realize it now, they’ll eventually come to appreciate the fact that you’ve helped them develop a healthy relationship with food and taste for nutritious foods.
Need support? Join my free Facebook weight loss coaching support group, Live Diet-Free.