As lame as this may sound, I actually love healthy food. I crave and genuinely prefer healthy, real, whole foods. Because I enjoy it so much, it’s easy for me to make healthy selections, when given the choice. I’m a sucker for a big salad. I prefer fruit for dessert. And I’m all about whole, organic, pasture-raised, cage-free, bottle that sunshine foods. I love it all.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t also indulge. I eat plenty of “treats,” as I describe them to my toddler, and I don’t believe in making certain foods totally off-limits. But like everyone else, I often find my healthy eating routine gets derailed from time to time. Personally, my biggest downfall is when processed foods are more convenient or readily available. If I eat packaged crap and I don’t take the time to feed myself healthy, whole foods, I notice a change in my energy level, mood, and satiation.
As a toddler mom, I now have to think about my son’s nutrition and eating habits too. So I’ve been paying more attention to our healthy eating habits as well as our ocassional detours, and I’ve come up with my best tips to stay on course.
Here are my simplest healthy eating strategies that will have you staying on track too!
- Plan your meals. Unlike many bloggers and social media folks, I don’t do much “meal prep,” in the traditional definition. But I do meal plan, and for me it’s just as efficient. Once a week, I make a list of all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners I’d like to make for the upcoming week (keeping in mind that cravings change and kids want what they want so all meals are flexible.) These lists can be fun, especially when you jump on Pinterest or other sites for new meal inspiration! Seeing the meals
on paperon iPad makes it easier for me to see if each meal has enough fruits and veggies and how to shuffle things around for variety.
- Organized Shopping. Once I’ve made my lists, the second part of my version of meal prep is shopping. I try to go every Friday and again around Tuesday for whatever we may need to restock after the weekend (the biggest eating period in our house.) I try not to shop hungry because when I do I tend to buy extra snacks or those prepared foods which are my weakness.
- Keep healthy items visible. Now that you’ve gotten your healthy beauties home, it’s time to give them a prime spot in your fridge or pantry. I’ve recently started storing healthy produce at eye level in plain sight in my fridge, after noticing that I was forgetting about and wasting some fruits and veggies that were hidden in the fridge doors. If chips or cookies are visible while celery and carrot sticks are not, you’re bound to reach for the one in sight. Keeping a container of celery sticks and carrots right in the center of my fridge shelf has made me eat them much more, and its crunch often hits the spot better than the chips that are usually at eye level.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is my favorite drink of all time, and I’m so thankful that my son feels the same. Nothing else quenches our thirst like water and we love the crisp, clean taste. Drinking water is so important for us all, but it also fills you and hydrates you properly to avoid any false hunger. People often confuse thirst for hunger, and reach for a snack when their body actually needs water. I also hate soda and the way it makes me feel, so we don’t even have it in the house. My son has still never tried soda to this day, and I only introduced him to juice a little before 3. (Water, milk, and Mommy milk is all he’s ever needed!) Try increasing your water intake and see if your “hunger” is sometimes thirst in disguise!
- Count your daily produce. Eating the rainbow is not just empty advice. Multiple colorful fruits and veggies throughout the day makes for better health and less unnecessary cravings. Try to count 5 to 9 different ways to incororate produce into each day.
- Snack! I love snacks and always have. Now my toddler is a snack lover too! We love making “snack bowls” together with lots of yummy, healthy treats all in one plate. I pack snacks in ziplocs for the car and we nosh on them when we need to. Snacking is proven to keep energy up and reduce unhealthy overeating. But the key is healthy snacking to sustain energy (donuts don’t do the trick!) We love nuts, pretzels, popcorn, cheese, dried fruit, and fresh fruit as portable poppables. Try planning and packing healthy snacks and see how it changes your energy and eating habits.
- Pay attention to your kids’ nutrition and yours. Most of us parents are concerned about our kids’ nutrition and we are paying attention to the balance of their daily food intake. But I’ve noticed that if I do half as much for my own nutrition, I’d be a lot healthier. Instagram and company love to brag about our kids’ beautifully balanced plates, but if you remember to eat with the same balance, your own nutrition will be just as healthy. Try eating the same balanced meals as your kids, only bigger!