by Damika Withers
Changing your eating habits can be tough for any one person. When you add a family to that healthy lifestyle change you are suddenly faced with challenges that may push you to give up or give in to some unhealthy decisions. As a busy, full-time working, meal planning mama for a family of four, healthy eating definitely presented its own ups and downs.
The first failure: buying “their food” and “my food”. This meant over spending on groceries and time spent making two meals for each meal of the day. That was an exhausting two weeks and I was back to eating the same unhealthy meals. The second failure: everyone going cold turkey and eating new unfamiliar healthy foods. My family often stared at their plate during dinner time trying to figure out what was wrapped up in their lettuce. This was a frustrating two weeks that left me with a lot of leftovers.
Victory finally came when I decided to replace food items one mealtime at a time. I started with my lunch. Having salad items on hand as a large side to my small leftover dinner meat for lunch helped me to figure out what I liked, what worked best for my meal planning budget and my body. I carried this concept of replacing food items to dinner time by following these three tips:
- Talk about your journey and include everyone in the language of your healthy lifestyle. Let your family know what your goals are, what you are doing to get there, and why. You cannot take care of everyone else if you are not taking care of yourself first. When I began saying no to chips and dip because it was not healthy or making homemade French fries because they did not make me feel good. My family began to think about the choices I was making and eventually started asking me about what was healthy and what was not.
- Offer new and alternative choices to snacking or meal sides. Instead of buying the fruit rollups I made fresh fruit readily available and easily attainable. Such as cutting up strawberries for easier eating, putting grapes in sandwich bags as a grab and go snack or choosing cheese sticks over Cheetos. For the chicken and rice casserole it was made with brown rice instead of white rice. When I wanted to have a no meat dinner we had a baked potato and salad bar offering different toppings like broccoli, cheese, or crunchy fried onions
- Be consistent and model the behavior of healthy eating. I am all about making things easier and purposeful. The more I chose healthy items and they saw me eating more veggies for dinner or making smoothies, the more they wanted to try the foods I was eating.
A healthy lifestyle is a beneficial transition for everyone. With these three tips introducing new foods becomes easier and a habit. Pick a meal time and start with one item, then two, and then the next meal. Kids are excited to be included in what mom is doing, keep them a part of the process, and have fun. My healthy lifestyle journey became enjoyable with my “we” along for the ride. I know it will provide the same motivation for you.
Damika Withers is a leader at her full-time job, in her community, and within her blended family. She is an author and a lover of helping others find ways to improve in any area. She enjoys spending time with her entire family, working out, reading, and writing.