We all know the importance of healthy eating, but what makes it especially difficult for moms is the fact that we have spouses and children! In the majority of households, the moms do the grocery shopping and meal prep, which in theory should allow us the freedom to include all of the healthy foods we should. If we decide to change our eating habits our family should follow suit right?
If that is the case in your home, more power to you, but if you have a home like mine then you know firsthand the difficulty of providing balanced meals and snacks to different family members. My husband grew up in a home where everything was prepared in Crisco or bacon grease, and he is a diehard meat and potatoes guy. He also is a white bread/white pastry/white cracker man, so there are constant temptations around! My boys were taught to follow a one-bite rule where they had to try everything once, but they each still have their preferences.
So when mealtime needs to fit everyone’s tastes, and moms are trying to make their own healthy food choices, how do we balance out the two?
Here are 5 super easy ways for moms to keep up their healthy eating habits:
1. ADD A FRUIT OR VEGGIE TO EACH MEAL: Not only does this help to add essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it keeps you from overeating something that may not be the best choice for your goals. For example, with breakfast, instead of two pancakes with sausage, have one with strawberries. At a meat and potato type dinner, make your favorite veggie (or 2!) and fill half your plate with them.
2. SWAP OUT INGREDIENTS: Don’t reinvent the wheel; if you have standard recipes like I do that you know are crowd pleasers, keep them! But swap out ingredients: lean cuts of meat, low-fat dairy, whole grains instead of white-based grains, and herbs and spices instead of gravies and heavy sauces are all super easy ways to make your standard recipes slightly healthier!
3. DRINK WATER: We hear this one a lot, I know, but I can’t say enough how much of a difference this makes! Water fills you up, especially when drinking it with food. It also slows our eating time (by stopping to have a sip) which aids in digestion, but also in enjoying what you spent so much time preparing!
4. CHEW GUM/BRUSH YOUR TEETH: I chew gum when I am cooking so I don’t nibble and eat extra calories (they add up!) After meals, try brushing your teeth! Often when we think we’re craving dessert, we’re actually just looking for a palate cleanser. And honestly, what tastes good after brushing your teeth? It’s a great way to prevent nighttime grazing!
5. MINDFULLY INDULGE: This is my favorite. We have so many meals that we love, recipes that have been passed down, occasions with desserts, vacations with new things to try…indulge! But here is the trick -- keep the portion small, and mindfully enjoy it. Don’t wolf it down, take little bites and use every sense to experience it! Our cravings are often satisfied after one bite, so there is no need to overdo it if we actually make sure to pay attention to what we are eating.
These are a few small and easy ways to maintain healthy eating habits even while preparing different foods for our families. And never forget the power of example! Your family may see your success and want to change their habits as well!
Michelle Crean is a Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise, a Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Federation of Personal Trainers, and also holds certifications in Kickboxing Fitness and Core and Functional Fitness. She lives in Springfield, MA, with her husband, two sons, and their dog Emily.