Healthy Eating Tips for Busy Families

by Kate Chiodini, Certified Personal Trainer

Losing weight can seem daunting for a parent. If you feel too busy to start an exercise and weight-loss regimen, you are not alone. You may wonder, “How do I balance eating right, getting enough exercise, and the demands of caring for my child?” The amount of time required just get to gym probably makes the thought of shopping and preparing healthy food for the family overwhelming.  Anyone who’s tried“dieting” probably knows it takes too much time to make two or more nutritious meals per day, especially when picky eaters are involved.  All that extra work makes it easy to give up altogether. It’s far less time consuming, however, and more beneficial to fit healthy eating into your schedule when the whole family eats the same meal. It’snot always easy if your kids aren’t accustomed to eating nutritious meals regularly, but if you get creative and a little bit sneaky, it can be done!Here are some ideas to help you tackle it all: 

Breakfast

Eggs are the best way to start the day. They are loaded with protein, keep you full much longer than cereal or toast, and help with weight loss. Some kids do not want to eat eggs every day or claim they do not like them. If this is the case, try swapping eggs with heart-shaped French toast (made with whole grain bread and, you guessed it, eggs). Cookie cutters are fantastic for making food into fun shapes for your kids. So, because you’ll be making French toast anyway, use some of the eggs for your own healthy scrambled eggs or omelet, share some fruit, and there’s a 10-minute, nutritious breakfast. 

Lunch

Cookie cutters also work well for kids’ sandwiches. You can make turkey or chicken sandwiches for the kids, skip the bread for yourself, and add some peanut butter with celery, yogurt, fruit and/or other veggies. Condiments can frequently be your best friend when your child refuses to eat anything with nutritional value.  Opt for condiments with fewer calories and less fat and sugar. If you compare a dab of mayonnaise on a sandwich or even a little caramel dip with apples to a McDonald’s Happy Meal, you still come out way ahead on the nutrition scale. 

Dinner

Quinoa, a grain-like crop, is considered a super food. It’s packed with protein, essential amino acids, iron, fiber, and it’s delicious. If your kids like rice, they will probably like quinoa as long as they can get past the texture difference, which can be made possible with soy sauce. So, grill some chicken breasts and vegetables and cook quinoa. If your kids prefer to eat all of their food separate, they could have quinoa, cut-up chicken on toothpicks, and carrots or broccoli. For yourself, try serving the grilled chicken on a bed of quinoa topped with veggies. Turkey burgers are also a healthy, easy dinner option – and great for ‘sneaking in’ veggies for picky kids. Simply puree vegetables and mix them in your favorite turkey burger recipe; the same goes for turkey meatballs. 

My pediatrician introduced me to an extremely useful “rainbow chart”, which is an interactive nutritional chart that makes eating fruits and vegetables fun. The chart brings to life the concept of “eating a rainbow”. By creating a game out of eating healthy – we can make the importance of healthy choices a little easier to swallow!          

Family life can be chaotic, but with a little organization it is possible to preserve a healthy eating lifestyle and maintain a hectic schedule. With these simple dietary strategies that will not only improve the way everyone feels on a daily basis, you will set up your kids for a lifetime of healthy habits.