A mother is never truly alone. Even on the rare occasion I am by myself, my mind and heart are with my kids. I can look to the New Year as an opportunity for self-improvement, but the truth is, it all comes back to my family anyway. This year, in the spirit of telling everyone what to do, I am going to make realistic nutrition resolutions for all of us. We aren’t going carb free or giving up sugar and mama isn’t giving up the wine, but, we are going to try a healthier diet in 10 seemingly easy steps.
1. Cut down on processed food. I know it is hard to avoid the convenience of packaged food, but serve fresh, homemade meals as often as you can. Have some simple recipes and ingredients always on hand.
2. Find a sandwich alternative two days a week. Get your kids used to cutting back on carbs by offering soup, yogurt and fruit or salad for lunch. The habit of having carbohydrates with every meal can become a hard one to break as they get older.
3. Eat more fiber. Fiber is great for digestion, cancer prevention and heart health. Gradually, substitute your breads, pastas and rice with whole grains.
4. Stock up on veggies and fruits. If you offer it, they will eat it. Buy foods like berries and avocado for immediate consumption and apples, oranges, carrots and cucumber for later in the week. Produce is expensive. Plan for how quickly certain items can spoil. You’ll waste less and always have something on hand for a healthy snack.
5. Cut down on red meat. Encourage your family to eat fish and vegetarian meals. Escape from the meat and potatoes mentality.
6. Eliminate soda and sugary drinks from your home. They provide nothing but temporary energy boosts and empty calories.
7. Cut down on snacking. By focusing on three nutritious meals a day, your family will be less tempted to graze. Have chips and sweets in your home only for special occasions.
8. Try new foods. Break out of the family dinner doldrums and give some new flavors a try. You’ll never know if your kids like bok choy or swordfish if you don’t give them a chance.
9. Involve older kids in the planning and preparing of meals. Encourage them to consider the health value when making a menu.
10. Finally, and I know this is extremely difficult in the midst of overscheduled lives, enjoy dinner as a family as often as possible.