Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Transitioning to Healthy Eating

Sometimes, the hardest thing about making the decision to eat healthier is understanding that the rest of the world is not on the same path as you. You have decided to cut down on your sugar intake, to eat less processed foods, to eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, but the television still inundates you with commercials for things you have concluded are not food. This is made so much worse if you are leading an easily swayed, or possibly resistant family in this transition.

So, how do you do it? How do you make it through every week of temptations and distractions and continue to eat healthy?

Michelle, from Organically Inclined, reminds us of how powerful it is to simply control what comes into the home.  I have always been a big believer in this one myself. Begin by thinking about the things that your family loves/craves and find a way to bring it to them in a more healthful manner. Here are some things we do in our house:

1. Drinks. This can be a danger-zone for so many families, as many have soda-addicted members in their ranks. Buy fruit juices instead and buy a seltzer water to make a juice spritzer for that soda effect. Just be careful of the sugar levels in the juices. Eventually you want your family on mostly water and juice as a treat.

2. Chips. This takes a while on your first shopping trip or two. Take time to really read the labels of the chips your family is eating. What's in them? We opt for Mulitgrain Chips or just plain potato or sweet potato chips when we do get them. Note: Do not buy chips on every trip!!

3. Cookies. This is easy. If the family wants them, then the family has to bake them - from scratch! When you do this, you know what is going into your cookies from beginning to end. Your family appreciates them much more (as long as you make sure they do some of the work with you - YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING THINS ALONE!) and perhaps won't inhale them at the same rate they do a regular store-bought bag of cookies.

4. Meals. This is similar to the cookie solution. You have to rally the troops to get cooking! Spend a weekend deciding what types of things you want to eat for the week - no rules - whatever you want, blurt it out. Write the list down and then decide if you can make these things. For the things you can't make yet, table them until the following week (have the family ask around, or search around, during the week for a recipe for the next week - here's some advice on how you can do that!). It becomes an ongoing foodie adventure!

Of course, in between work, life and all of your other obligations you are wondering, "When will all of this fit in?" Well, I want you to imagine this as you would any other large family project, for example redesigning your living room. There are multiple stages in such an endeavor, such as:
  • a planning phase - What do we want to buy/not buy?
  • a purchasing phase - (This is usually the longest part.) Finding the right store(s), the right products, at the right price for you and your family.
  • an assembly stage - Putting all this stuff together to make meals, meal plans and a new lifestyle for you and your family.
  • living the new life - Finally all your new stuff is in place, but as life moves forward you find new additions here and there, or things you thought you liked that need to be taken out. 
This is not a simple task. People should not give up at the first speed bump thinking they've done something wrong - there will be bumps, probably a lot of them, but that's ok - working your way to a healthy lifestyle (especially when you are battling for a whole family and not just yourself) is quite an undertaking. Take it step by step, take your time, and ask for help when you need it!

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