The underlying theme in each of these three points is: Don't believe everything you think!! You might have heard and been telling yourself some of these stories for years and it seems like it's the "truth" but with a little work, you can begin to tell yourself new stories around this topic.
As you may know, I am a mom to three girls ages 4, 3, and 1. So time is of the essence in our home. I have been vegetarian for about 10 years, which by no means equates to healthy eating. You can definitely be a junk food vegetarian. But if you are a vegetarian, you know that it usually means a bit more pre-planning (especially for family events when your family is not vegetarian), and usually a bit more time in the kitchen. So I do know a thing or two about some of the realities of healthy eating that may seem like downfalls.
The three main responses I have heard when it comes to "healthy eating" are:
1. Eating Healthy Takes More Time 2. Eating Healthy Costs More
3. Eating Healthy is hard when you have kids
So let's go into each one a little deeper and shed some light on these realities. First, eating healthy does take more time. I am not going to lie about that. That is not to say it always does, you can easily make some simple, plant centred meals and snacks that can be filling and quick. But generally speaking, it takes a bit of planning, preparation, and time in the kitchen. This doesn't have to be a bad thing though! I think we have made cooking and nourishing our bodies seem like such a chore (as with exercising or moving our body, but that is for another time ;)) but it doesn't need to be that way. Try practicing gratitude that you are able to cook such healthy and delicious meals for you and your family. With a little weekly planning, making nourishing meals can be a fun family ritual, and we all know how good we feel after eating something wholesome, that was made with love, compared to not-so-nutrient-dense meals.
Now if you want to eat a little healthier in your household, then you have to have some options on hand of course. An easy way to do that is being prepared for when you are hungry. Try having carrots and celery chopped up and baby cucumbers handy with hummus stored in your fridge. If you don't have time to make your own hummus then buy store bought. Don't feel like you need to do everything yourself, especially if you are just starting out. That is one way to lead to overwhelm and then it will feel really hard and not so much fun. Snap peas are a great snack too with hummus or on their own, but I do find that my kids like having things to dip their food into. Fruit is such a quick and easy snack to have as well, and most kids love fruit since it's so sweet. When you buy your apples, wash them as soon as you get home and keep them in a nice bowl on your counter so that anytime you or the kids are hungry it's there and ready to go! I don't usually wash my blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries when I first get them because I find they go bad a little quicker (unless you use a vinegar, water soak and this seems to help). Bananas are easy to have on hand, and kid friendly, sometimes we cut them up and top them with almond butter for a little extra filling power. Crackers are another kid (and adult) friendly snack, and you can get some great gluten free options at Costco. We are obsessed with the Lentil Turmeric and Sweet Potato crackers from there. Hummus is another good option here, or cheese if you are not vegan. Sometimes we do a cucumber, cheese and cracker sandwich. My two older girls love eggs in any form, my youngest, not so much. So we keep hard boiled eggs on hand most of the time. We eat a lot of pistachios, almonds, and cashews in our house and they are one of my favourites to snack on. These are all great (mostly) whole food options, but if you find yourself with a bit more time then it's nice to have banana bread or muffins in the deep freeze (if you don't eat it all within two days like we do here ha!), energy balls stored in the fridge or freezer, or homemade granola bars handy. These types of things do take more time than going to the grocery store and picking up a box of store bought options, but this way you know what is in your food, and you can customize the recipe to suit your family. There are times when it is really handy to have some store bought granola bars on hand or other similar options, and there is no judgement here if that is your everyday go-to snack, but it's good to be aware of the ingredients you are consuming and making small changes to make the most out of the food you are eating. So those are some good options for snacking, but what about lunch and dinner? This is where a lot of people can feel overwhelmed, especially if you aren't getting home until 5 pm or later. Here are a few of my tips:
1. Cook once, eat twice - if you are going to be in the kitchen cooking anyways, then why not double your recipe and have leftovers for lunch tomorrow, or supper again? We always make a big batch of soup and it will last two or three lunches. 2. Take advantage of your slow cooker - spend some focused time looking up slow-cooker specific recipes and make those on the days you are needing to feed everyone quickly before heading out to kids activities. 3. Search for 20-30 minute meals - there are many meals that you can search and whip up in a quick 30 minutes. 4. Batch cooking and meal prepping - take some time to plan your meals for the week and try to cook similar meals that you can use some of the same things. Think: rice stir fry one night, and the next night tacos with rice. Or roasted veggies one night as part of your meal, and then using left over roasted veggies in a soup or stew the following night.
One final statement for this point - I believe that spending the time making healthy food for my family is worth it. There are times I don't have the motivation or ambition and we eat meals that are less healthy, and that's fine! I never beat myself up for that because life is busy and not all days go as planned! But for the most part, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen and knowing that my family is eating whole foods.
Second, Eating healthy costs more. A lot of people throw this statement around as if you are better off spending less money and eating processed food. Yes, it may be true that eating healthy may cost more than eating more processed (I know these are relative terms and individual to each person's opinion of healthy) but I believe our health is important enough to spend the money on, rather than fuelling it with less nutritious options now, and paying for it later in life. Our grocery bill is high each month because of all the fruit and veggies we buy but there really isn't another option. I wouldn't rather buy sugar-filled snacks for my girls and save the money on buying less bananas. And I have actually never done a comparison on what those snacks would cost compared to fruit because to me, it's not an option. Now we are definitely not perfect, and I am not saying my kids don't eat cookies. We all love chocolate in this house! And I know that all families bring in different income so it's not always easy. But as with all changes, start small where you can and see how it goes.
Third, Eating healthy is hard when you have kids. I feel like I need to say this one more time, we are not perfect eaters in this home, and I still have lots of room to grow myself and feeding my family. So that being said, there are times I believe this story myself. But I know that everything with kids can be a little harder from time to time, not just eating. For the most part though, our girls eat pretty nutritious - because that is what we feed them! So if you are wanting to cut down on the amount of processed foods in your family's diet - be prepared! There might be some resistance! If you have a baby who is just about to start solids, take note, you are shaping their taste buds and their food choices. If you have older kids and you want to make some changes, try getting them involved! Look at recipes together and ask them what are their favourite meals. Maybe you can substitute in different ingredients. I do believe in being honest with your kids though, I don't recommend lying to them about what's in there food. I'm not a believer of "sneaking" in vegetables, even if you essentially are doing that by adding in shredded zucchini to your homemade marinara sauce for your lasagna. If they ask, tell them. And with that, I also wouldn't suggest telling your kids that certain food is "bad" or "good" which was something I was confused about before. But that won't create a healthy relationship with food. Try telling kids about how nutritious certain foods are, and learning together what those nutrients do for your body (these carrots help your eyes, this hummus keeps your tummy full and gives you protein for your muscles). And let them know, it's fun having cake on birthday's and celebrating together, and making cookies for your grandpa can be a fun thing to do together and create fun memories! I could go on about this one topic for awhile, but the main point I want to make is that you may have some push back. Try having an age-appropriate conversation with your children if you are making some changes, and you will be able to find food everyone likes. You need to give everyone some time to adjust, but you can get there!
Let me know what are some things that have worked for you and your family with any of these points! If these are some realities you have in your family and want to learn some benefits of joining a group coaching program then click here.
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