This week, we are going to address strategies for implementing those plans. We all know that nobody likes a set of rigid rules, so try to make changes as fun as possible.

We talked in the last article about getting started with a plan to make small changes in your family’s health and wellness.  This week, we are going to address strategies for implementing those plans.  We all know that nobody likes a set of rigid rules, so try to make changes as fun as possible.

The suggestions below can be adapted to fit families with a wide range of children, so be creative.  Even teenagers will come on board if you make it interesting.  If you do not have children, you can still embrace the “fun” approach either by yourself or with your spouse.

  • Create a “new behavior” challenge – Create a “new behavior” chart in the kitchen.  In my house it would be called the “veggie” chart as that’s what my children like the least.  Each family member competes for a week to see who can eat the most servings of vegetables.  Set a fun prize for the end of the week like the winner getting to choose Friday night’s dinner or restaurant.  Even though the actual veggie eating may not be fun, the family can get so wrapped up in trying to win, that they may forget to complain and may actually find some new ways to eat vegetables that they enjoy.
  • Create a “new food” challenge – Have each family member come up with one new healthy recipe or new way to prepare a healthy food.  One new “experimental” dish is served each night, and family members score the dish on a scale of 1-10.  At the end of the week, the person with the highest score gets a prize like reprieve from one chore or 30 minutes extra on curfew for a night.  If you have young children, pair one adult with each child and compete in teams.  Make sure to make the rewards match the age group of your children.
  • Substitute foods strategically – Instead of completely eliminating your favorite family dishes, start by substituting in healthier ingredients.  Simple switches like using applesauce instead of oil can allow your family to continue enjoying their favorites without feeling deprived.  Check out the SWEET TREATS section of Heart In Motion for some great alternatives to high calorie desserts.  CHOCOLATE SHAKE WITH A HEALTHY KICK is always a favorite of both kids and adults and tastes like a chocolate milkshake!
  • Mix in vegetables to higher calorie regular dishes.
  • Add finely chopped mushrooms to hamburgers or meatloaf to decrease the calorie and fat content.
  • Mix ½ spiral cut zucchini with regular pasta.  LOOK HERE for a great veggie spiral slicer.
  • Hide vegetables in spaghetti sauce.  Whether you are making spaghetti, lasagna, or even pizza, adding onions, shredded zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, or extra tomatoes is a great way to pack in extra servings.
  • Use sliced eggplant instead of noodles in lasagna.  Cut, salt, microwave, and blot excess water from the eggplant before adding it to your dish.
  • Mix ½ chopped, steamed cauliflower into macaroni and cheese.  Make sure to cook the cauliflower to a soft consistency and chop the pieces small enough that they match the size of your noodles.
  • Mix mashed cauliflower with your mashed potatoes.  You can vary the ratio based on what you think your family will tolerate and work to increase the ratio of vegetables over time.
  • Create “art” with your food – We were all told as children not to play with our food, but here is the opportunity to BREAK THAT RULE.  Have everyone at the table create the most imaginative work of art that they can come up with.  Take pictures and post them on the fridge.  If you have older children, you can post the pictures on Facebook and have your friends vote on the most creative.

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  • Try one of the above strategies to help your family make a positive nutritional change without the typical headache and struggle.