Why is getting the whole family to eat healthily like pulling teeth? Everyone knows it’s the right thing to do, the healthful thing to do, but they all moan and groan like it’s the hardest task they’ve had to do in their entire lives.
Establishing healthy life practices takes patience and persistence to build a routine, but it doesn’t have to be as boring as the whole family expects. Here are a few fun and easy tips to get your family to eat healthier and live their best lives.
1. Follow the 80/20 Rule
How many times do you order in during the week or month? Want to eat more real food?
Stop making the rules so challenging, and pick one rule to live by — eat real food 80 percent of the time and whatever else during the other 20 percent. Skip the expensive health-food store products, and buy real whole grains, vegetables and fruit, with a protein-rich diet. Vegetables contain protein, too.
80 percent of the time avoid artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, refined flour, sugar and processed foods. The other 20 percent — eat whatever you each want. That means your kid eats a whole breakfast but can feel free to say yes to the mystery flavor sucker the teller at the bank offers.
2. Eat Backwards
Choose a day out of the month where you eat backwards for the day. You serve dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. If it’s on the weekend, you can wear your pajamas all day, too. If the kids watch cartoons at breakfast, allow them to watch cartoons in the evening before bed — but only for that one day.
Shake up your routine and see what happens.
Show your family what real hunger looks like and how good it feels to give back. Research shows people who give back feel better about the world and themselves, increasing a sense of life satisfaction and accomplishment.
Children have big hearts, but it’s easy to get caught up in the small world of the self and school. The tiniest of little ones making small contributions, such as donating their time or part of their allowance to a soup kitchen, shows that big impact doesn’t have to be big to feel big.
It’s even better if your family members pick charities that resonate with their abilities and passions. Donate tutoring skills or bake brownies for the local fire station. Get creative with volunteering and get to know your community.
4. Cooking Competition
Create your own junior chef competition, such as trying one of Rachel Ray’s kid-friendly cooking challenges with a twist on a PB&J sandwich by including strawberries and bananas with bacon, pecans and chipotle powder.
The junior chefs can also create their own special PB&J recipe with a variety of food choices that you supply. Supervise uses of hot appliances, such as a panini press and oven.
5. Microwave Meal Mondays
Instead of Meatless Mondays, declare the dreaded start of the busy week as Microwave Meal Monday. The only rule is that the meal must be mostly healthy. Keep the convenience factor and eat better.
There are many healthy recipes easily and quickly made in the microwave. You can poach eggs and fish in the microwave, and you can make cauliflower mac and cheese and gluten-free enchiladas. If you have a teenager starting their college applications, cooking healthy and tasty meals in the microwave is a survival skill that should be learned now.
6. Shake Up the Snacks
Instead of sneaking healthy foods into meals, strike a balance by shaking up snacks nutritionally. Teach your kids to make their own chips, and journey to a farmer’s market to choose colorful vegetables to dehydrate or bake. Kids are also more likely to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables when they have a dipping sauce — use cheese, honey mustard, ranch, balsamic vinegar and other experimental dipping sauces.
You can manage the nutrition of the dipping sauces by making them yourselves, such as baking brie or melting other organic cheeses down.
These six fun tips will get your whole family on board for eating healthy. Your teenager will know how to cook nutritious and “fancy” meals in the microwave, and you’ll develop little iron chefs of your own who care about giving back to their community. Besides, who doesn’t love the idea of breakfast for dinner with cartoons?
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Porch.com, Tripping.com and more!