Parents have a lot to juggle. Some days, it’s a miracle that everyone left the house wearing pants. (If you have a toddler, you know exactly what we mean!) Getting caught up in busy days and never-ending to-do lists sometimes means that healthy choices are put on the backburner. But making simple changes is easier and more fun than you think. Better yet, you’ll start to feel good… and have more energy for lugging that massive stroller and taking the family dog for a longer walk.
These tips can help make your whole family healthier:
Meal plan. Want an answer to the age old question, “What’s for dinner?” By spending a bit of time plotting out your meals for the week, shopping will be more efficient and you’ll make much healthier choices. Some days definitely call for a pizza delivery (so keep that in your back pocket!). But having a few meals mapped out—that make enough for leftovers—is a lifesaver.
Try a meal delivery service. Many families rely on the ease of a meal delivery service to get dinner on the table. This a great option if you like to cook, but don’t want to spend as much time on the planning and shopping. Keep in mind: some recipes can be time consuming to pull together.
Pack lunch. Bring a balanced lunch to the office. This is a huge money saver and a lot more nutritious than fast food spots. While you’re at it, pack snacks to keep you energized throughout the day (easy ideas: an apple and peanut butter, a bag of nuts, Greek yogurt with berries, hummus and veggies, or cheese and whole grain crackers). If you’re home during the day, do the exact same thing!
Pay attention to your plate. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s latest dietary guidelines, half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables (be sure to vary them!). Canada is on board with this plan, too. From salads to tasty roasted veggies, following this advice adds a big boost of nutrition to every meal.
Be active. Whether you decompress at a yoga class or buckle your kiddo into the stroller for a run, make fitness a regular part of life. It can be hard to find the time when you have young kids, but it’s good for your mind and body. Make a plan to exercise a few times a week when you know it’s feasible (at the office gym, an online video during naptime, a favorite class on a weekend), And when your kids are old enough, get them involved too. Ask them to join you to walk the dog, climb a rock wall, or hit the trail for a local hike.
Make healthy swaps. Pass on the butter and use healthy oils for cooking. Choose fish, poultry, and beans for protein, and limit red meat and processed meats. Make whole wheat pasta and brown rice instead of regular pasta or white rice. Use wheat bread for sandwiches rather than white bread. Drink water instead of soda or sugary juice drinks. These swaps benefit everyone in your family!
Don’t forget your pets (yes, they count too!) Yep, your lovable pup does better work than the vacuum when your kiddo drops food on the floor. But it’s important to include your pet in your family’s approach to nutrition, too. The Farmer’s Dog delivers healthy, freshly made pet food right to your door. It’s made with human-grade ingredients that meet USDA standards (natural ingredients, higher safety standards, and no preservatives!). Go on their website to get your pup set up with a personalized, vet-developed plan and also check out easy DIY recipes to make your own pet food. Two big “paws up” for another way to simplify your life!
Have fruit where you can see it. You and your kids will be more inclined to grab a clementine or apple from a bowl on the counter, instead of digging in the cabinet for a cookie.
Make your own baby food. Store-bought pouches and jars of baby food definitely come in handy. But it’s simple and less expensive to make your own. Whether you use a baby food maker or a steam basket on the stove, just prep the food, steam it, puree (or chop it), and serve. Tip: freeze big batches in ice cube trays so you always have plenty on hand.
Do more with veggies. Let’s face it. Plain, steamed veggies are boring. And unfortunately for your chicken nugget-loving kids, ketchup isn’t a vegetable. Get your kids excited about trying new vegetables (if they’re old enough to go shopping with you, let them pick something out from the produce aisle). Whether you roast veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper (so easy, and so good!) or you let your kids dip away with good-for-you spreads, new ways of serving will make it easier for them to say yes to the green stuff. You can also entice (okay fine, trick) your kids into eating veggies by baking them into muffins, blending into smoothies, and adding to sauces.