Q:How does one begin to get the family to eat healthier? I have 3 boys 10, 4 and 2 years of age. I want to eliminate McDonald's, Burger King from their diets...Suggestions?
That is a great question and one I get asked all the time. Much further in the program, I have steps for getting your family involved, but I will give you a few good ideas that might help you now. I am a firm believer that small changes really do matter, so I would not go cold turkey on them. I have children as well and know that I have to ease them into any major change.
- The most important step in decreasing fast food is planning. It is important to have healthy snacks in the car with you for them so that when you are out and they get hungry, fast food is not the best option. Just like I recommend for weight loss clients, never leaving the house without food is an amazing strategy. It only takes 30 seconds to throw apples, almonds, yogurt tubes, cheese sticks and a cold back into your cooler bag and run out the door. Think really simple about this type of planning as it can get overwhelming if you feel like you have to hand make everything all the time.
- Take some time with them to talk through how important it is for their health that you cut down on the fast food, but reassure them that the change will be gradual. I know that kids don’t really identify with the health benefits when they are young, but it’s never too early to plant the seeds. When you do make a “planned food” choice like driving past McDonalds while eating your yummy snacks in the car, be sure to point out to them that you are doing so. By calling their attention to how simple it was to make a different choice, you are teaching them that they do have other options and that the choices can be easy.
- I would also take some time to look at what the healthiest options are at the fast food places for when you do go. For example, a hamburger is probably going to be a better choice than battered and fried chicken nuggets…apple slices over french fries. Even encouraging them to split an order of french fries instead of each getting their own is a step.
Take a look at the products section of the website. It is under “resources.” That will give you some ideas about portable, healthier options as well. Also, take a look at the restaurants section of the website. We have narrowed down some of the lower calorie choices from many major chains to help you make eating out less of a mystery.
Simple substitutions go a long way toward meeting the need for both convenience and improved health.