Learning healthy eating habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. Understanding that healthy food matters and healthy choices do taste good is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for our children as they grow, not to mention that the habits they learn now will follow them into adulthood!
Don’t reinvent your grocery shopping list all at once; there are many easy and beneficial changes you can make now that will create healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. By making simple changes to include healthier foods and eliminate the unhealthy ones, you are much more likely to stick with it long enough for it to become a habit!
Eating healthy doesn’t mean changing your entire menu plan. Start by taking the recipes you love, like pancakes or spaghetti, and look for ways to make them healthier by adding fiber from whole grains or nutrients from vegetables. Without even thinking about it you will start enjoying the benefits of healthy eating.
7 Ways to Start Eating Healthier
Try integrating these simple changes into your healthy eating routine, starting today! Before you know it, you’ll be eating your way to a healthier you all the time!
Water : Drink it.
Drink lots of water. Replace pop, juice, flavoured waters, fizzy drinks – all of it – with water. If you need something to jazz up boring water, add cucumbers, frozen lemon wedges, or strawberries. Even try freezing berries or lemon into ice cubes and pop in your glass when you refill. A pretty drink tastes yummier.
Peanut Butter : Go Natural.
Natural. As in one ingredient on the label: peanuts. Yes, it tastes different without the hydrogenated oil and added sugars, but add sliced bananas or apples, a trickle of maple syrup or honey and your kids will love it. Peanut butter is a healthy protein to add to any snack, but only when it is natural.
Grains : Go for Whole.
Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, whole grain cereal, whole wheat flour, and brown rice. Remove white starchy everything from your pantry. Add whole grain oats to everything you bake, make kids lunches with whole grain bread, use whole wheat flour in waffles or pancakes, top whole grain cereal with sweet fruit instead of buying sweetened cereals.
Almonds : Go Nuts.
Full of healthy, monounsaturated fats, almonds are a great snack. Buy them dry roasted or make your own if plain blanched almonds do not have enough flavour. Add to salads, grind up in your morning smoothies, crush to coat fish or chicken, and serve with cheese and orange slices to add protein to snack time.
Salad Dressing: Say Yes to Yogurt.
Switch to yogurt or vinegar based dressings. Yogurt based creamy dressings in the refrigerated section of the grocery store have only 1-2 grams of fat per tablespoon compared to a whopping 7 tbsp in most ranch dressings. Better yet, make your own dressing with rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, a little extra virgin olive oil and use Dijon, lemon or pressed garlic for flavour.
Speaking of Yogurt: Buy Wise.
The yogurt isle is quickly becoming the most confusing stop in the grocery store. Beware of ‘fat free’, as it usually means artificial sweeteners and flavours have been added to keep the taste after they have removed all the fat. Try Greek yogurt that has more protein, less sugar and all the calcium, and add your own berries or honey to flavour and sweeten naturally.
Add Vegetables: To Everything.
Even if you are past pureed baby food stage, keep a stock of pureed squash, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots in the freezer to turn everyday mac n cheese into a healthy meal or otherwise guilty brownies into a healthy snack. Toss in pureed squash and zucchini to spaghetti sauce or even when baking your favorite muffins and a 1/2 cup of pureed cauliflower goes great in scrabbled eggs or quiche!
The idea of healthy eating as a lifestyle is not to restrict what you can and can’t eat, but to improve the ingredients of your everyday food and drinks, and turn them into healthier meals the whole family will enjoy. Just as added sugar and fat add up to a diet disaster, added vegetables and healthy fats give your daily dishes a healthy boost!