Spending time in the grocery store may not be your favorite pastime. But the fact is, when you have a family, you’ve got to shop and cook in order to eat well. Although shopping and cooking are admittedly not as easy as zipping through the drive-through and unwrapping a hamburger, doing these things doesn’t have to be a chore. And just like exercise, it can easily become part of a pleasant routine that will add years to your life and life to your years!
Once you get it down, you will realize that food is not only supposed to taste good, but it’s also supposed to make us feel good. And not just at the point of contact. It’s designed to give us a sense of well-being throughout the entire day.
Here are 10 habits that busy families can easily implement in their lives:
- Forget About ‘Diets’
We are all creatures of habit and if you make good habits, they can last a lifetime. Research tells us we are more likely to gain weight when going on a diet. Facts are, if mom is always on some kind of diet her daughters will follow in her footsteps. The real key to health is replacing destructive habits with successful healthy habits. New habits are hard to form and much harder to break.
Try adding in more colorful foods to your meals. Make it art. Ask your kids to try a different color for seven days. See how creative they can be. Making the switch to nutritional excellence leads quickly to results you can see and feel. You may initially go through a period of discomfort as your body eliminates toxins and works to restore balance. But once you actually start figuring out what foods really work for you and fuel your body properly, you’ll be amazed. You will derive the kind of pleasure from eating that doesn’t just linger on the palate. It’s the kind of pleasure that lasts from one meal to the next. When you change the internal environment you can change your brain and gut health for the better.
- Let’s Talk Labels
What’s in a label? As a population we are still pouring big bucks into the diet industry. It’s hard to imagine but true: in schools, homes, and restaurants hardly any of our children eat healthy. To make matters worse, parents are purchasing diet sodas for their children. Because of this we may look for labels that say no-fat, fat free, or low-fat. We assume it’s healthier, so the tendency is to consume more of it.
In reality, these products can contain more sugar or aspartame and unnecessary chemicals, pesticides, artificial flavors, synthetics, and toxic vegetable oils. Consuming these can make it difficult to lose weight, and actually cause weight gain. This brings up the subject of dairy. The chemicals, hormones and synthetic products that can be found in dairy products are not often labeled. Lots of people find that skipping dairy products altogether leads to amazing improvements in their health and weight. There are plenty of alternatives out there that might surprise you. I enjoy making my own almond milk and it really doesn’t take a lot of effort. (recipe below)
- Tune Into Your Food
Give it your complete attention in order to enjoy every bite. Avoid the shoveling effect. Make it a point to pay attention and chew your food and ask your children to do the same. Enjoy the taste and aromas of what you eat. Research suggests that choices, like how much to eat during a meal are often made subconsciously. Trouble is, our brains are hard-wired to mislead us in lots of little ways, which can have a big impact on our food choices and how much of them we eat. It’s best not to eat when stressed, because the body doesn’t know what to digest first. Just using this one step can improve digestion.
- Be a Role Model
Parents can influence their child’s food preferences. This means moms and dads can make it a point to purchase more whole foods instead of crackers and cheese. As a Health Coach, I have taught my Sugar Blues Program over 100 times to several high school classes. Doing so, I have witnessed firsthand how kids start their day in first period with donuts and soda at 7:45am. The sad news is, not only do these foods cause weight gain, but kids can not learn on these non-food like substances. Countless studies and anecdotal observations confirm a clear link between the quality of food kids eat and their academic performance. To take this one step further, obesity leads to a smaller brain size.
- Don’t Fear Fats
Fats are not your enemy. Organic avocados are a healthy fat. They are also a good brain food. You can use it to make a guacamole dip, and scoop it up with some carrots, and cucumbers and not only will your child have a healthy snack, but an enviable one! (recipe below)
- Visit the Farmer’s Market
Find time to visit your local farmer’s market. As a society, we have become extremely disconnected from our food. And that makes sense when you consider how much of the food out there is disconnected from itself. Take a visit to your local farmer’s market. When you know your farmer, you know where your food comes from. You may open yourself up to meet more likeminded families that enjoy good, clean foods grown without pesticides and chemicals. Some farmers may even have duck eggs instead of hormone laden chicken eggs found in the supermarkets. Seasonal foods from a farmers market taste so much better and are more nutritious. Buying local isn’t just about your health and the food itself. When you buy local, you help reduce the “carbon footprint” that exists from all the food being shipped all over the world. You’ll find it isn’t actually much more expensive. Sometimes, it’s even less.
- Handling Holidays
Vacation time, no worries. Just do a little planning before you leave. With the power of the internet, such planning has never been easier. Find out how close you will be staying to farmer’s markets and grocery stores that carry fresh produce so you can load up on produce as soon as you arrive. Do your research to find the healthiest restaurants along the way, especially local restaurants that use local products. These restaurants take pride in using local products, typically provide healthy options, and prepare their meals in healthier ways. Take your own snacks for a road trip or plane ride to keep you from stopping for unhealthy snacks at convenience stores or vending machines. Prepare in advance some organic homemade hummus, granola, and trail mix (without peanuts) and chop some raw organic vegetables and organic apples. All these are healthy options.
- Pack It Up
Bring foods to all parties you attend. A typical party might have a roast beef with buttery mashed potatoes, and all kinds of pies, cakes, and cookies made with sugar and white flour. Add to the table yourself! Bake 4 sweet potatoes and blend with 2 avocados.(recipe below) Or, bring a big side of beautiful roasted vegetables. These will delight anyone’s senses.
- Be Aware of Movement
Pay attention to how often you and your child exercise. Gyms today include family memberships. You can also take a bike ride with your children. There is plenty of evidence linking improved academic performance to physical activity. Those young adults who have a regular exercise routine ‘routinely’ report a greater sense of productivity, less depression and a healthier body.
- Food is Not a Reward
Find a reward system that doesn’t include food. Fast food lacks the necessary nutrients for growth and proper development, it actually contains an overload of ingredients that, over time, are deadly – grease, trans-fats, enriched white flour, processed meats, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sodium – all slow poisons served in SuperSize portions.
Most schools use sugary foods to reward children. And most parents do the same. Find a reward system that works in your household that doesn’t include food. These can include going to a movie or having more time with mom and dad.
Homemade Almond Milk
2 c. raw organic almonds
6 c. pure clean filtered water
Flavor with a handful of organic raisins and one vanilla bean
Soak your almonds, vanilla bean and raisins overnight. In the morning, remove vanilla bean and place ingredients in your Vita mix blender. Blend for about 3 minutes. Strain using a milk bag. Refrigerate.
3 organic ripe avocados -pitted
2 organic tomatoes
1/2 bunch organic cilantro
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 fresh lemons -juiced
sea salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse several times to get desired consistency. Enjoy!
Baked Sweet Potatoes w/ Avocado
Bake 4 organic sweet potatoes until done. (About 1 hour in toaster oven)
Mash 2 ripe avocados (pits removed)
Blend potatoes and avocados together in oven safe glass bowl, bake another 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Enjoy!