Having a dietitian in the family is a little like living with a personal nutritionist. I learned a lot of simple tips from my mom, a registered dietitian, about how to eat right. She taught me that it’s OK to eat your favorite foods in moderation—banning a specific food just makes you want it more—and it’s important to fall in love with vegetables. Here are more healthy habits to adopt for life.
1. Try a bite of everything.
Not only is it polite, but trying every food served to you also expands your palate and opens the door to new foods you may not have tried on your own. This is especially important to teach young children when almost every food is new to them. The more foods they try, the more foods they’ll like, and the easier it will be for them to have a balanced diet. This proven tip is just one of our 15 tricks for parents of picky eaters.
2. Eat veggies because they taste good. (They do!)
Yes, we know vegetables are an important part of our diet. But that’s not a big enough motivation to eat them. We eat the foods we like. So, fall in love with vegetables. Do whatever it takes to make them taste good, like adding a cream sauce to Brussels sprouts, so you’ll want to eat them.
3. Don’t use treats as rewards.
Giving your children treats as a reward creates a bad habit that could stay with them for life. Dessert can be part of a healthy diet, but it should be eaten in moderation and never feel like it is deserved. (Try these skinny desserts.)
4. Indulge in moderation.
Never indulging in your favorite foods can lead to binge eating. If candy is forbidden, children often eat lots of it whenever their parents are away. So eat your favorite foods—just know when to quit.
5. Eat fewer meals on vacation.
Typically, the only option on vacation is to eat out, so you don’t need to eat three meals a day. Balance your calorie intake by eating a large breakfast before sightseeing, and then waiting until dinnertime to eat your second meal, with a snack or two in between. (Don’t miss these other family vacation tips.)
6. Don’t keep foods in the house that you don’t want to eat.
If cookies are too tempting for you, then don’t keep them in the house. If you don’t have it, you can’t eat it. You’re not banning it from your diet. You’re just making it more difficult to get. My brother is a super-healthy eater, but if there’s Saltine Toffee Bark in the house, you can bet the pan will be gone by morning.
7. Eat a variety of foods at mealtime.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important. A balanced diet of fruits, veggies, lean meats, calcium-rich foods and whole grains is essential for healthy eating. Plus, the more foods you expose to your children, the less picky they’ll be later on in life.
8. Exercise five times a week.
No matter how well you eat, you still need to exercise. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week. My mom went to Jazzercise—yes, it’s still around; yes, I’ve tried it—five times a week. Even if the only thing you have time or energy for is a walk, do it!
Applying one, two or all of these habits is a great place to start when moving toward a healthier lifestyle. As always, consult a medical professional before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise plan.
Check out these other tips for healthy eating from Taste of Home: