In my new book, Teaching Kids How to Eat Well: A Series of Healthful Eating Tip Sheets for Kids and Teens A Parent’s Guide, I talk about helping kids to eat well and how it is a process, well it can also be a process for parents to eat well too.
Before you can help your child eat well you must help yourself eat well. Take a serious look at your diet; are you eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins? Are you paying attention to serving sizes and do you stop eating when you feel full?
If not, keep these two things in mind on your quest to healthy eating.
Set Yourself Up for Success
If you want to succeed with eating well you should start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. If you try to go cold turkey and make changes to your diet overnight you are setting yourself up for failure, its just not realistic or smart. When you try to change everything at once you will be more tempted to give up on healthy eating. Make small steps instead, like adding a leafy green salad to your diet once a day or drinking eight ounces of water with every meal. As these small steps become a habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
Moderation is Key
People often think that healthy eating means you must give up your favorite foods; it’s an all or nothing situation. This is far from the truth; the key to healthy eating is moderation. More specifically, it means eating less processed foods and more whole foods, real food. If you have a preference for sweet, salty, or fatty foods, start by reducing the amount you consume (portion size) and how often you eat them. The hope is that in time you may find yourself craving such foods less and thinking of them as occasional indulgences.
If you have decided that now is the time for you to start eating healthier, well done! Making that decision is an important step in becoming a healthier person. Another important step is developing a healthy eating plan. A healthy eating plan should present you with an opportunity everyday to make healthy eating choices by providing you with a variety of nutritious foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, 100 percent whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.
At the same time, your healthy eating plan should consists of foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars. It should allow you to stay within your pre-determined caloric needs and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Your healthy eating plan must be one that you enjoy not something you dislike or complain about. If the foods you eat always have you thinking about the foods you cannot eat, try refocusing on all the delicious new foods you can eat and the potential health benefits, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Remember that healthy eating is all about balance. Your healthy eating plan must have a place for your favorite foods. The key is eating them only once in a while and balancing them out with healthier foods choices and more physical activity.
The CDC offers these useful tips about balancing your favorite foods:
- Eat them less often. If you normally consume these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You’ll be cutting your calories because you’re not having the food as often, which can help with weight loss and weight management.
- Try eating smaller amounts. If your favorite higher calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar. Be careful! This technique calls for a lot of will power and works well for some people, but others may find it is too tempting to have their favorite food available, even in smaller amounts.
Consistently making healthy eating choices is essential to a successful and sustainable healthy eating plan. Staying positive, focusing on all of the food you can have and making the same healthful eating choices time after time can lead to developing better eating habits and a healthier you.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nutrition for Everyone http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/index.html
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines