One of the biggest challenges when trying to maintain a healthy diet, for yourself or for your kids and family, is when you’re eating out. The temptations of shoestring fries, lasagne on the menu, thickshakes, are not always easy to pass up!
Starting young, is the best way to lay the groundwork for healthy food habits when your kids are older.
Encouraging healthy food choices early
Start at home, and start early. As early as possible.
The best way to do this, is starting at home. Provide a wide range of nutritious foods from the very beginning.
“You can also get your child involved in choosing healthy family food – for example, by letting him help with the shopping list and taking him along when you go food shopping.” // www.raisingchildren.net.au
When your child is older, he or she will enjoy having that input and participation into what to eat for her lunch, or snacks at school. After a while he or she will be able to make her own lunch and snacks, and do it healthily.
“Letting your child have a say in family food gives him great practice in making good choices, which will come in handy when he’s older and eating out or away from home.” // www.raisingchildren.net.au
Making healthy choices when eating away from home
Whether your family has a bustling social life and go out to dinner and events often, or your children want to buy snacks at the school canteen, their ‘sometimes’ food may end up accessed a little more often than ‘sometimes’.
The best way to tackle this, is to…
Strike a balance
Define the ‘sometimes’ foods in your family, and with your kids. We’re talking about high sugar or high fat foods, things like chips and chocolates, fries and cakes and lollies and sweet drinks.
You don’t want to cut out everything in life, so approach these sometimes foods by
- making sure she eats sometimes foods only occasionally and in small amounts
- avoiding labelling foods in good or bad
- don’t overstate how ‘tasty’ sometimes foods are
- don’t use these foods as bribes for doing something good
When you know that you are going for an event or outing and you know you’ll need to eat before you’ll get home, try and bring healthy options with you, such as fruit or vegetables like carrots, and bring your own water bottle to reduce that thirst and urge for a sports drink, coke or juice.
When eating out in a restaurant or at a takeaway venue, the chances are the food selections will be far higher in fats and sugars than your lunch or dinner options at home. Encourage your children to really consider the meals that he or she will be ordering. A good idea is to talk through the menu and discuss each option on there, to encourage some balance. For example, if chips or fries are desired by your child, then counter balance that will grilled chicken or fish as opposed to fried. And add vegetables on the side.
Another idea is to share an item from the adult menu and ordering a side of vegetables or salad for the both of you to share. In terms of portions, the problem is when eating out, they are quite often much larger than portions from home. When eating out, finishing everything on the plate shouldn’t be overly encouraged.
In a nutshell, look for and encourage healthier options and choose smaller servings.