15 Easy Healthy Eating Habits for your Family
Eating Healthy should be a way of life not a special diet! It should be something you can do effortlessly. I hope these easy healthy eating habits from my family may help give you some ideas to try with your family.
It’s often surprising when my friends raise an eye brow at me using the word healthy. You know with me being a Cake Decorator and Food Blooger. Especially with all those dessert recipes!
The truth is that healthy eating does not mean you eat just boring food. It bothers me when people associate healthy eating habits with just a basket of green veggies. Veggies is just one part of the healthy eating there is so much more you can do to promote good health in your family. Even drinking water is an important part of maintaining good health.
Being a professional cake decorator means we have cakes and frosting around all the time, not to mention we love desserts. My husband’s family has a history of high cholesterol!! My family comes with a history of Arthritis. Which means I have to be extra careful with keeping the balance. I believe the key is to main Easy Healthy Eating Habits regularly.
So; today I wanna share with you a few Easy Healthy Eating Habits and tricks I use with my family that you may find work for yours too.
1. Be Creative with water (yup this has to be the first for me)
I know!! I hear you! It’s so difficult to drink water at times, Especially when you are busy and especially when you have to drink it out of the tap. It’s even more difficult to get kids to drink water; isn’t it? Here’s what I do and it works for us.
- Place a jug of water in the living room – add a few cucumber slices and a sprig of mint. Kids like drinking water outta jug more than just from the tap.
- Or add your favorite fruit slices like lemon, oranges or apples in the water pitcher. Fruits have a nice way of adding a subtle flavor and making water more desirable
- Make a diluted Iced lemon Tea with honey in summer – it is so refreshing.
- Green Tea is a great way to drink up. In our home it’s usually green tea with no sugar!! So it’s just like drinking water but with the added benefits of green tea.
- Straws!! Creative straws!! Yup works with kids all the time!
2. Encourage fruits in the family with a few simple changes
The best snack you can eat is fruits but what we don’t always do is keep it in front where we can see it. Here’s what works for us.
- Wash the fruits and place the fruit basket on the dinning table. Kids love to pick an apple or banana even when they are not hungry – if they see it.
- Take a break during the day, especially during those afternoons when you wanna binge. Grab a plate, get some fruits out of the fridge – slice them up. You will be surprised how inviting cut fruits are especially to the kids.
- When my kids give me any issues with fruit? I usually blend some fresh fruit juices such as bananas and strawberries. Watermelon in summer, Melon and Apples etc.
- When you serve it – make it look fancy – Kids love things that look pretty – I use some fancy smoothie glasses and straws.
3. Get your family in a routine – Add special diet days.
The one thing that works great with our family is routine. Plan days ahead of time. This makes planning easy for me and the rest of the family usually knows what to expect.
For example; this is how lunch usually works for us. So I have to plan ahead and take busy cake days into account.
- Sunday is Fish day – A lighter meal to start the first day of the week.
- Monday is Chicken day – so I make things like Schnitzel, baked chicken etc.
- Tuesday is – Pasta day cause my kids love pasta – so it’s some kinda pasta like meatballs, mushrooms, veggies.
- Wednesday is often – Asian food – so I make either Noodle, Japanese Teriyaki chicken, Thai veggie Curry, Indian food etc.
- Thursday is Hummus day!! Yep my family loves hummus so we have to have hummus once a week. We throw in some Falafel too!
- Friday is the weekend for us so – mama cooks what the kids decide they wanna to eat.
At some point we were learning – food from different parts of the world so the kids could explore countries.
Then we moved on to Ingredients – So we’d pick a special veggie that the kids got to choose.
- Saturday is left over day – we always have left over from Fridays.
As for dinners.
- There is always salad on the table.
- Winter usually calls for soups and
- We get creative with left overs. Left over chicken goes into the sandwiches and wraps.
- We love sandwiches and wraps with things like Salmon, Chicken, Tuna Patties , Cilantro Fish cakes
- Every second Thursday we have Pizza; yes whole wheat Pizza!
4. Get creative with veggies
How many times have we heard people tell us that veggies are important in out diet. Easier said than done especially with kids, isn’t it?
- I find that in every family there are little loops that we can work on.
- For example – In our family we love wraps and Sandwiches. So often I will add the veggies in the chapati or Tortilla wrap.
- Some times it’s – Chicken and Avocado with salad or an Omelette with tomatoes, onions and herbs. Kids don’t go looking in.. as long as it’s a wrap they are happy.
- I never serve mayonnaise or store bought salad dressing!! because our choice of sandwich spread is usually mashed Avocado, Olive Spread, or pesto or even a sweet garlic and peppers spread.
Our salad dressing is usually Olive Oil, Yogurt & Mustard dressing and often the kids favorite Avocado & yogurt dressing.
- Another great way to get kids to eat veggies is Soup!! In our home soups are huge….. which means in winter I can make soup everyday and the kids won’t complain. That is why this blog has so many soup recipes – Easy homemade cream of mushroom soup, Creamy Homemade Sweet Pea Soup, Roast Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup, Maple Pumpkin Soup, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Chicken Pot Pie, Leak and Potato Soup.
- Adding veggies between your Lasagna sheets like the kale and spinach is a fun way to get veggies in. Try adding them in the pasta with the meat – Instead of meat pasta throw in some mushrooms and peas.
- Roast veggies like potatoes instead of deep frying -A great way to making veggies fun is to roast them. They taste amazing. Try oven baked chips or Oven baked potato wedges.
- Be creative with Salads – I love to add fruit and nuts in the salad like a few toasted pecan, walnuts, raisins, dates and cranberries can really add so much more to a salad. I’m always surprise how my kids enjoy this Quick Carrot Salad with raisins cranberries and nuts.
5. Substitute Oil for butter
- Often we think adding butter makes things more tasty but we don’t realize that adding butter means also adding too much of saturated fat in our diet. Which is not good for your family’s health as it raises cholesterol and the risk of heart diseases.
- When you can – try substitute oil for butter.
- In fact make it Olive Oil and you’ll be adding a ton more flavor.
- Coconut oil is another way to add healthy fat to your diet.
- As a rule of thumb for every 1 tbsp butter you can use 3/4 tbsp oil.
- Try using the olive oil spray when you can, especially when baking potatoes and such. It really makes a big difference.
- I usually never add butter (just canola oil) to our pancakes, eggs and omelettes and honestly we don’t miss nothing.
6. Add Brown Sugar instead of White Sugar
- As a rule of thumb adding more brown and green to your diet is always a good thing. right?
- Brown sugar not just adds more taste in your dishes because it contains molasses but being less refined it’s also less sweet compared to white sugar.
- In fact I do substitute Brown sugar even in my cakes and cupcakes when I make for the family!!! My kids love these Scrumptious Brown Sugar Cupcakes so much
7. Add more whole wheat where you can? Pasta, rice, chapati
Again adding more brown instead of white is a lot better! But the trick to doing it right is to take it slow. Many folks just decide to make a switch when they should actually do it slowly. Doing it slow works best both for your bowels as well as psychologically.
- In our home we now only buy Brown pasta. It’s become a part of our diet that we hardly know any different.
- The brown rice is still a bit difficult with my kids so I only substitute the white rice for brown in Pilafs and Pulaos. When it comes to plain rice we still stick to the white rice.
- As I said before we love wraps so making tortilla was huge – now we make only Chapati or Whole Wheat Tortilla.
8. One is a while indulge in meals that are different and choose a healthy option (for us it’s food like Quinoa and whole wheat couscous)
- Quinoa is fairly new to our family. Personally I like quinoa and it’s so easy to enjoy. I often make the same rice pilaf recipe using quinoa instead of rice. This year I plan to share a few of those recipes with you. I think you will enjoy them.
- Couscous is even more easy to incorporate in your diet. The best part – whole wheat is no different to cook then the regular couscous.
9.Plan snacks ahead of time.
Snacks are the one thing that usually throw diet outta the window – right? Often it’s that odd time when you are hungry that you end up picking the wrong thing to just satisfy the craving.
If you have small kids – then the most common phrase in the house is… Mama – I’m hungry!! Often they just want to munch or eat!! Kids have a high metabolism so they do need to eat!!
I usually keep left overs for kids snacks. Like freeze left over whole wheat pizzas, Chapatis etc.
- Unless your family is allergic to nuts – Dry Fruit and Nuts make a great snack. They work great with the sweet cravings; are good fat and they even get you munching.
- I usually make Filo filled mashed potatoes or Filo Samosa in the freezer that my kids like to heat a bit in microwave for an easy snack. So when I have left over mashed potatoes they become filo samosas!!
- There is always Pizza in the freezer – Yes; I make whole wheat pizza (I will be sharing the recipe with you soon).
- Chapati or Tortilla is another great thing to have in the freezer – Often when Aadi comes from basket ball or swimming practice he will eat Chapati with peanut butter or Nutella or pastrami and cheese, sometimes even an omelette.
- Cookies – I have two cookie monsters – both Ziv and Aadi are addicted to cookies. So I usually pick two cookie recipes a week. One is the standard Chocolate Chip cookies and the other is usually a healthy choice like Oatmeal cookies. They are both warned to ration them thru the whole week. So no more than one of each cookie a day!!
- Granola bars – Aadi is not a big fan of Granola but he loves his snack bars. Which is actually – the same homemade Fruit and Nut Granola + some rice krispies combined with some melted chocolate and marshmallows.
10. Balance your desserts with your meals.
When it comes to desserts – I’m always first in Que. Heck I’d rather have dessert than a meal. But of course I can’t afford it!!
Often you get people go cold turkey and say – Oh no more desserts for me from now on cause I’ve been having too much desserts lately. The problem with this attitude is that you cant’ keep it off. You stay off desserts for a few days and then go binge so much that you end up eating more. Instead plan your desserts with your meals and decide what you want to give your body. Enjoy it and don’t eat with guilt!!
- Desserts don’t have to always be decadent chocolate or fat loaded. An apple pie is a great desserts; so is a nice bowl of fruit and yogurt with honey.
- The truth is you can eat all three if you do it once in a while? If you indulge in high calorie dessert today, eat something more modest to balance it off on other days.
- We have dessert made only on the weekend. During the week – the kids know they are allowed 2 chocolate pieces after every meal and that’s something that they do on their own.
- Often the dessert is fruit based – like Blackberry Tart, quick Apple Tart, Eggless Vanilla Pastry cream based desserts such as this Strawberry Tart.
11. Salad goes on the dinner table first!
Here’s a little trick I do before dinner everyday!! I know the kids are hungry so when I get dinner ready I make the salad first! I take it and keep on the dinning table. For my kids the best salad is cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes. Almost all the time the salad gets over before I get the rest of the stuff like soups, sandwiches or wraps. Bread usually goes last on the table.
12. Get Kids in the kitchen – Let them help. Make it a time to promote food.
Both my kids love helping in the kitchen. Often they like making Cupcakes, Cakes but I also get them to make homemade pasta, breakfast parfait, chapati, pealing the potatoes, mixing batters etc. Things they are capable of doing.
I use this time to chat about the food they like. Share information about food so they understand what we eat, why we eat and what is good to eat. If you pick the right conversation you will find that they will ask questions and explore more.
That’s how I got the kids into the trend of making food from different parts of the world. Mama this week we will make Chinese Food. What is Chinese food? OR Japaneses Food. If you get kids to understand food it makes them better at choosing their foods too. And hopefully in future they will make the right choices that are good for them.
Curiosity in the kitchen gets the kids not just to learn about food but also the helping gets them to eat the food.
13. It’s an attitude – Make healthy eating a natural process – not a big deal.
When you try to force something new it becomes difficult. Isn’t it?
- Instead go with the flow. What is the worst that can happen? you will take longer to add that brown rice in your family meals but when you do it will be a welcome meal not a compromise.
- And if one person says I don’t like something – never force them to eat it. I know my neighbor whose kids hate Broccoli and she makes it a big deal – now they hate it even more. So what if your kids don’t like broccoli – find another veggie that is just as healthy and acceptable to them.
If you force kids they will avoid those food not just as kids but even when they grow up because of the unpleasant association they have with food. I hated a few veggies which I was forced to eat as a kid when I was in the boarding school. I started eating them now with my own kids!
- When I started adding Brown Pasta into our diet – the first time Aadi noticed the difference. So I told it was brown pasta because it’s more tasty and because it has more nutrition for our body. I think he wouldn’t be as convincing if I told him it’s healthy!
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14. Lead by example
I know some of my friends cook food for the kids separately! The kids food is often more enriched – with the belief that kids can afford it! My personal take on food is about
- Eating as a family and about everyone eating the same food.
- I do not believe that we should cook food with butter and cheese for the kids just to convince them to eat it.
- Kids may not eat something at one point but eventually they do try because they see their parents eating it.
- Broccoli is delicious. My Rhea use to eat broccoli until she saw the movie “Inside Out” where they associated broccoli with disgust!! Kids learn from these examples we give them.
- Kids have the tendency to go on and off certain veggies at time. I noticed this with my Aadi; at some times he enjoys beans and then for a few weeks he does not want to touch them on the table. That’s ok. If you let it be he will come back to it on his own if not he’ll resist.
- Let kids know they have a choice and hopefully they will choose to eat because they learn from us.
15. Shop Wisely
Last but the most important. Shop what you think you must eat, not what you think you may need.
- For example don’t buy both brown and white pasta so when you have to choose the brown always gets left behind. Instead just buy brown and that’s what you will cook. Eventually; it will become a norm and not a second thought.
- If you don’t want your family to eat a certain food don’t stock it. Stocking is having second thoughts, and when you have second thoughts you give in.
- Don’t buy aerated drinks these are really not good for the family and the only way to get rid of this habit is not to bring it home.
- Over shopping – Buy what you need for the week. When you over shop you end up using more just because you have it. For example buy snacks that you think are just enough for the week. If you buy snacks for two weeks you will end up using it because it’s at home.
- Read labels when you shop!! This is more important now then ever before? Simple things we eat and give are kids are loaded we labels we can’t even pronounce. I think reading labels is an important part of eating healthy today.
I’d like to end this post with a little lesson I learned from my own kids – Never under estimate the intelligence of kids.
Ziv always says this especially when he see crappy kids programs. Almost 2 years ago we use to be so bothered with Aadi’s habit to eat lots of processed meats like pastrami, sausages and ketchup. We’d always tell him how unhealthy these were but while he ate a lot of good food (even broccoli) to compensate for it – it bothered us that we could not get thru him the right message.
At the time Aadi was about 7 1/2 and one of his favorite thing to watch was – how it’s made on You Tube. One day he stumbled on the video – how salami is made, how sausages is made – he watched with disgust!!
He came out of the study room and said – Eewww I wanna pucke. I’m never eating processed food ever again. He went to the freezer picked up the bag of frozen sausages and put it in the dustbin. Never asked for it again. He’s ketchup from a big blob on the plate went to a small tbsp size which he ate sparingly.
Of course we thought – kids…! eventually he’d go back to it but NO!! It’s been almost 2 years and he still does not eat sausages or processed cold supermarket meat!!
Over here having (hot dogs) Sausage in a roll bread with ketchup for birthday party’s is very common and all the kids enjoy it. He won’t touch it. He will come home hungry and say mama I didn’t eat at the party they had sausages.
So you see. Trust your kids. You are the best example for your kids. If you eat right so will your kids.
I hope you found a few easy healthy eating habits in this post you can use for your family. I’d love to hear any tips you may have for me or my visitors. I’m sure we can all learn from each other.