How to Instill Healthy Eating Habits in Your Family What you as a parent will eat, your kids will follow the suit. If you want to make your kids do something, the first rule is to do it yourself. When you eat healthy, your kids will be inspired to eat the same. With so many unhealthy foods available at superstores, it is quite difficult to keep yourself and your family away from it. For instance, there are ready-to-drink juices (which are full of sugar) and ready-to-eat meals (which are loaded with preservatives) available just a call away. On top of that, you are tempted to dine out with family on weekends. In this hullaballoo, how is it possible to instill healthy eating habits in your family? I have been trying this for a month or so. We as a family are not dining out at all. We go out, have fun, return and cook something together on weekends. This way, we are not only eating healthy, but also have come close as a family. While my husband chops veggies, my toddler hands over the works to prepare food. It is lovely to prepare something together and relish it too. Here are some ideas that will help you to make sure that you as a family are eating healthy and nutritious food. How to Instill Healthy Eating Habits in Your Family Team Up Unhealthy with Healthy You can’t ask your family to start eating healthy all of a sudden. Hence, you should first begin with teaming their favourite unhealthy foods with healthy ones. Suppose, if its burger for dinner, make sure to prepare only half the number. Now, first serve the soup and then, the burger. And make some rice dishes together with it to make a complete meal. I have been doing the same with my toddler. She likes noodles but didn’t chew them. So, I make her eat rice or chapatis first before serving noodles to the entire family. Her temptation to eat noodles was marred down eventually. Eating Whole Wheat I am one mommy that wants to keep my kid away from refined flour. While I do not prefer it for weighty issues, I do not give it to my family for nutrition reasons. I began with bread first. I do not bake breads at home as our family is not a fan of bread. However, whenever we buy it, we make sure that it is either whole wheat bread or a multi-grain one. I have even been preparing béchamel sauce or white sauce using whole wheat flour rather than refined one. Also, cupcakes and cookies turned out good with whole wheat flour. My little one is a fan of pasta and noodles. I bring the whole wheat brown pasta and wheat or rice noodles from the store. It tastes quite good. Just check the ingredients at the back of the pack, to make sure that it is whole wheat and not refined flour. Stocking the Refrigerator I personally believe in eating fresh. Refrigerator is a bane at times. I have seen many families preparing food in bulk and then, consuming it for a couple of days from refrigerator. My rule is to prepare only small batches of food that can be consumed by the family in one sitting. However, I use refrigerator to store sauces because I am not able to prepare them instantly. When we shifted to a new apartment, sourcing fruits and veggies became quite difficult. So, nowadays, even these can be seen peeping out of my refrigerator. I make a point that there are no soft drinks, ready-to-drink juices or chocolates in the refrigerator. This is to prevent my toddler to eat this stuff. Whenever I am hungry and open the fridge, I find only milk to drink and fruits to munch, and that ways, I am cured of eating unhealthy during hunger pangs. Drink More Water The first rule of healthy diet is drinking more water throughout the day, in any form you wish. While we know that water is necessary, we either don’t remember to drink it or do not want to. The first rule is keep water accessible. Fill a jug and place one on the dining table, one near your workstation and even near the shoe rack. Further, get creative with water. In summers, I add fresh fruits like lemon, orange, kiwi, apple or mint in a glass jug. My family is excited to drink this detox drink. No Short-order Cooking This was my weakness, earlier. I didn’t use to plan meals in advance and when the time arrived, I prepared anything that was easy to cook and clean. This made me a lazy and unhealthy cook. Hence, my meals are now planned a day or two in advance. I source the ingredients and make preparations in advance. Even when we as a family are going for an outing, I prepare the veggies, knead the dough and prepare some rice in advance. This way, on return, I just need to make chapatis. Let your Family Decide Often, we are brought up with the mindset of eating only particular foods for breakfast and others for dinner. For instance, poha is for breakfast and parathas are for dinner. My point is that if the food is healthy, then why should we restrict our family to pin down foods for meals? If my husband asks me to make parathas for Sunday brunch and poha for a light dinner, then I agree it. When my toddler desires to eat pasta for breakfast, I add some veggies in the sauce to make her a hearty breakfast that she will love. When I give in to their demands, they are not tempted to eat the unhealthy stuff. Keep Innovating Healthy eating does not mean that you need to eat regular dal-chawal daily. Adding new ingredients to the regular meal can work wonders to keep your family glued to the healthy stuff. For instance, if it is just paneer today, after a few days, I prepare paneer with colorful bell peppers. Colour is my mantra to make food interesting. The more colorful the food, the better it is. I even change the method of preparing meals. If I am sautéing potatoes today, I bake them next time. This way, my toddler does not get bored of potatoes. Substitute When you start eating healthy, the key is to substitute ingredients, methods and food. For instance, sauteing instead of frying, brown sugar or jaggery instead of white, oil or clarified butter instead of butter. If tea is what you are hooked on to, substitute it with a cup of warm milk or even warm water. If you love eating desserts, substitute it with fruits and honey. Educate Just regulating unhealthy meals does not work. Educate your family about what healthy food is and the reason you are asking them to eat it. Inform them about different types of flours and benefits of eating them. When you are preparing meals, involve your family in the process. Tell them why you are not frying and sautéing instead. This way, they will not only be informed but also try to eat healthy foods even in your absence. Finally… Healthy eating should not be forced. If you are forcing someone to do something, the person will not be doing it in your absence. Make healthy eating a way of your lifestyle. Inspire your kids by choosing healthy foods over the unhealthy ones. Eat fruits, fresh veggies and foods that you think that your family should eat. Do not fill your basket mindlessly at superstores. Do not stock unhealthy meals. When unhealthy ready-to-eat foods will not be present in your kitchen, your family will be able to eat it too, including yourself. Remember, charity and healthy eating begins at home! Here’s to Healthy and happy eating! If you find this article helpful, consider it to share with the people you care.