You probably know the importance of making healthy choices even amidst a jam-packed schedule. And making healthy food choices goes a long way for you and the entire family. But the question is always, how? How can you make healthy food choices when there’s barely enough time as it is?
If you are busy with your daily routine and responsibilities at work and at home, you and your family still need to be healthy. It’s no secret that choosing the convenience of fast foods is an everyday norm for many busy Americans. After all, the lure of the drive-thru can be so tempting.
Although sometimes it is difficult to do, with proper planning and prioritizing, you can make healthy choices a part of your daily routine. Here is a simple guide on how you can make healthy food choices a part of your everyday life.
How to Make Healthy Food Choices in Everyday Life
1. Do not go shopping when you are hungry.
This will only make it more likely that you’ll end up with a shopping cart full of unhealthy options. When you shop hungry, even your best intentions (and your grocery list) will go out the window. So, before heading out to grocery shop, make sure you’ve had a good healthy meal or a snack.
2. Go through your pantry and remove the unhealthy foods.
When you make a commitment to start choosing healthier options, it means that you’ll have to get rid of the unhealthy food choices that may still be lingering in your kitchen. If you don’t want to throw them away, donate any non-perishable, unopened foods to a local food pantry or shelter. Once the junk is out, replace unhealthy choices with healthier alternatives. Instead of buying potato chips and cookies, double up on more fresh fruit and whole foods.
3. Prepare easy-to-cook healthy meals.
It is so easy to buy fast foods to feed the family when you are already exhausted from a long day at work. Instead of waiting until dinnertime to scramble and end up making the unhealthy choice, plan your meals out in advance and cook in batches. There are so many fast and healthy meals that you can easily prepare at home. The meals can be planned ahead of time so that they can be prepared with just a little effort. For example, pre-chop all your veggies for the week for easy stir-fries or salads.
4. Cook a large batch of one meal and freeze the leftovers.
This will give you an instant healthy meal for the family even during those busy days. You can do this by making such as casseroles ahead of time. Another trick is to cook large quantities of healthy sides such as brown rice and quinoa. It will take you just a few minutes to get a healthy meal on the dinner table every night, even if you come in tired from a long day of work or activities with the kids.
5. Avoid buying junk foods.
If you’re following the other suggestions above, this is a natural result. The temptation of eating junk food shows up for us daily. While the urge and convenience will always be there, you’ll be less likely to give in if you have other, healthier options at your fingertips. As much as possible, keep your pantry and refrigerator filled with healthy fresh, whole foods and snacks.
Creating routines around how you buy and prepare food is key to help you make healthy food choices. But that’s not all. Creating other healthy habits will go a long way to ensuring good health for the whole family.
Other Healthy Habits for the Whole Family
Chew your food and eat slowly.
We’ve all heard it said that it takes the brain 10 minutes to signal your stomach that you’re full. Well, this is no myth. There’s science behind this. Most of us do not realize that we are full because we’re eating too fast. By eating slowly while chewing the food properly, you will be able to prevent yourself from overeating.
Relax during mealtime.
If you’re a multi-tasker, mealtime is a time when you’ll want to drop all your other activities and allow yourself to focus. This is the perfect opportunity to get downtime and purge your mind of anything stressful that’s going on. Especially if you work in a busy environment, or are always “on the go” every day, you’ll want to take the opportunity during meals to just chill out and give your body and mind the rest they need.
Reconnect with the family during dinner time.
Sitting down at the dinner table together as a family is not impossible, it just takes a conscious effort. Establish some rules for the family around family time, which includes meal-time. Use this time to connect and catch up.
Following all of these tips will help you eliminate junk food, and fill your menus with healthy food options that the whole family will enjoy.
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Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Expert, and Health Educator. She creates impactful, evidence-based health and wellness content and programs for individuals, families, and communities.