Many of us want to break unhealthy habits and start new healthy habits as we start the new year. Everything we eat can either make us healthier or even make us sicker. It’s really that simple. When you start thinking about food as nourishing your body and giving you the energy to keep up with your busy schedule, you’ll be more motivated to make lasting change.
Most children don’t need to be on a diet to lose weight, so it can be difficult to get them to join you in your new healthy eating lifestyle. Teach your family to focus on nutrients rather than calories and you will teach them the skills they need to have a lifetime of healthy eating.
1. Get rid of all of the junk food in your kitchen. Let’s start with the negative first, so it’s all up from here. If you don’t have junk food in your kitchen, you and your family are less likely to eat junk food on a regular basis. Perfection is not needed to live a healthy lifestyle. What we are striving for is healthy food 80% of the time. This flexibility is a huge help where school parties, sports snacks, and family outings are constantly messing with real food plans. Don’t let one cupcake throw you off your goal. Long term change is what we are shooting for. Explain to your family what you are trying to accomplish and your reason for wanting them to be healthier. They are more likely to buy-in to your changes if you include them in on your motivations and plans.
2. Go ahead and clean up the kitchen while you are at it. You are going to be spending more time there so you might as well enjoy it. Throw away any leftover holiday foods and give your refrigerator and counters a good scrubbing. Maybe think about some new kitchen towels or a colorful silicone spoon to make time in your kitchen more fun.
3. Make a meal plan for the week. I know. I know. Meal planning seems like just another thing you don’t have time for. I’m here to tell you that meal planning is the key to eating real food while juggling a busy family schedule. Go ahead and print out my meal planning calendar which includes a spot for you to include your daily activities. Grab your printable calendar and some tips on meal planning here.
4. Practice reading ingredient labels. Grab your favorite packaged food and flip it over to the back where the ingredients listing is. You are probably going to be shocked by all of the ingredients including artificial food dyes, tons of salt, sugar, and ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Start cutting back on all of the unknown ingredients when you go shopping. Opt for whole foods and less processed packaged foods that have 5 ingredients or less.
5. Shop for lots of healthy real foods. I know from experience that when you switch to eating healthy food that all you can think about is food. You are going to want to stock your house with lots of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Since you are going to be cooking at home more often, make sure you have a well stocked pantry. Check out my real food essentials list here to help you put together your real food kitchen.
6. Eat more whole grains. Processed grains have their nutrition stripped out of them. That’s why it’s so important to eat whole grains. Looking for whole grain foods is harder than it sounds. The food marketing professionals are very good at their job and can be quite confusing. Look for the whole grain stamp to help you out. For more tips on determining if you are really buying whole grains, check out this helpful resource.
7. Drink more water. Drinking water is easy for some people and oh so hard for others. If you are addicted to sugar you probably are also addicted to sugary drinks. Start drinking water with each meal and grab a fun water bottle to carry along with you. I promise, once you purge all of that sugar from your body, you will start to crave water over all other possible beverages. I like the flavor of water from a glass container the best so these are my favorite water bottles to carry. They are available in a variety of sizes and colors so your family can each have their own to carry along for the day.
8. Pack lunch for you and your family. Fast food and even school food are often nothing but processed foods. It is almost impossible to find real food at restaurants so your best bet when you first start out on a real food journey is to pack a good healthy real food lunch. That way you can control the ingredients and make sure your family has the food that they will actually eat. I have a resource for school lunches if you want some ideas to get started. Another great idea is to simply cook a little more for dinner and then you will have extra for lunch the next day. It saves loads of time when you cook once for multiple meals.
9. Eat two fruits or vegetables with each meal. The more fruits and vegetables you put in your body, the more nutrition your body will receive. Strive to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. The foundation of a real food lifestyle is filling your body with lots of nutrition. There is a whole rainbow of fruit and vegetables to choose from. Each color brings its own list of beneficial nutrients. Nutrients that help your body to feel better and fight disease. Fruit is helpful when fighting sugar cravings so keep lots of fruit on hand for your family to grab anytime they need a quick snack.
10. Try a real food Challenge Week. I have put together a systematic plan to change from a processed food diet to a real food lifestyle. We did it week by week by making small changes and then adding another small change each week. It’s a great way to learn the ins and outs of real food and really make a lasting change for your family. You can check out a challenge week here.
What should I do to stay on track you might be asking yourself? If you are interested in making long-term healthy change for your family, please follow us this year as we provide lots of tips, motivation, recipes, and helpful products that will truly help you to Juggle Real Food and Real Life. Also, take a look around this site and all of it’s resources. There are recipes and tips to get you started and to keep you motivated each day. It’s a juggling act for sure, but it is possible to eat real food even with a busy family schedule. Here is to a happier and healthier new year!
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