Every new year, many individuals and families resolve to eat healthier. Wanting to eat healthy is a great first step. But knowing how to get your family started with better nutrition can be a little more challenging. (Raises both hands and waves them around desperately.) We recently chatted with Erin Pelias, certified health coach and owner of Mommy Roux, to see what easy, family-friendly tips and tricks she suggests for healthy eating as we barrel headfirst into another busy year.
We weren’t surprised to hear her say that good health begins with good family nutrition — from day one. But what should we be putting into our bodies?
“There is so much conflicting information on nutrition these days. It can be really hard to figure out what you should be eating. I like to look at diet from the standpoint of nutritional density,” says Erin. “We eat for nutrition, that is the bottom line. Yes, food should look good and taste good and smell good, that is all part of the eating process. But our senses have been tricked by processed foods. It can be hard to wean ourselves off of these addictive, convenience foods—much less find the time to prepare home-cooked meals, where you are in control of the ingredients.”
I think we can all agree that it’s best to have more fresh ingredients and fewer processed foods. And cutting down on processed foods is always a good place to start.
The human body requires three macro nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Which food sources you choose for these macro nutrients depends on age, health challenges like allergies and digestion, and access to food, she says. “I use the crowding out theory in my coaching practice—by adding in healthier, nutrient-dense choices, we crowd out the processed foods. As we satisfy our bodies’ ‘hunger’ for real nutrition, we stabilize our blood sugar levels, repair our digestion, and learn how to cook real meals—the change happens on its own.”
Chances are good (if you are honest with yourself) you already know what you should be doing to improve your healthy eating habits.
Erin advises taking a minute and writing down three foods you “should” give up (or stop feeding to your kids and family) in the new year. She says these can be things like fast food, ice cream, or chips cooked in refined oil. Whether big or small, put it down on paper. Now, do a little research and see if you can find a homemade recipe for your “guilty pleasure.” Erin says, if you plan to give up fast food you should carry healthy snacks with you to curb hunger cravings until you can get home to eat something “healthier.” If you’re trying to give up commercial chips and ice cream, look for homemade alternatives. Try choosing one food per month to replace (or “crowd out”) this year. You may be surprised at how easily you can change your diet!
Resolve to cook more meals at home!
This is another great way to improve family nutrition. Meal plan, and stick to the plan. Erin says, if you are short on time you can outsource the meal plans by purchasing them online, then follow the grocery lists and menus. Schedule time to grocery shop and cook. “I recommend setting aside one day for cooking to prepare some basics for the week. I like to boil eggs for a quick breakfast. For lunches, make a pot of soup or beans — roast a chicken, and bake something like muffins or healthy cookies for a treat during the week.” Eating at home helps you make healthier decisions! Your wallet and waistline will thank you ; )
- Make exercise a part of your daily life. “I love the 7 Minute Workout App if I am short on time. Or just doing three sun salutations and a moment of Vinyasa, ” Erin says. Exercise does not have to take up a ton of time, and if your kids see you exercising you get bonus points for modeling good self-care!
- Increase your water intake by bringing a one-liter bottle with you, and sipping on it throughout the day. When you do this, you’ll have less room for coffee and soft drinks. Try this with your kiddos also. Most commercial fruit juice has just as much sugar and calories as soda and other sugary beverages. So skip the juice and drink more water!
- The best way to eat more fruits and veggies is to plan for it. Plan out your meals, and stick to the plan. Cook like your life depends on it, because it does. We are what we eat; cooking high quality foods for ourselves and our families can make a world of difference.
- Fast every single day. Don’t eat anything from 8:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. If you do this, you will be fasting for half of your life, Erin says. Break your fast with a morning meal: “break fast.”
Finally, view everything and everyone you meet with gratitude. “Teach your children gratitude, and they will be rewarded with a greater satisfaction with life.” Better health and wellness starts from the inside!