I am a firm believer in small changes that add up to bigger overall results. When it comes to food and lifestyle habits, it can be difficult for the family to adjust — especially with young children. Typically, this can be due to the fact that many times, with all good intentions, changes are made in leaps and bounds, versus a slow progression towards healthier habits. Sometimes, there is an attempt to eliminate entire groups of foods at once — for instance, all dairy, or wheat, or sugar, or white flour. Such drastic changes can leave a huge gap in your regular diet and you may find that you are constantly trying to substitute at almost every meal.
Instead, go for the small changes, so you can celebrate those successes. The probability of making lasting habits that stick is more likely if you adopt this method. Here are some easy tips to consider for your family:
Vegetable of the week
You know all those crazy, leafy, colourful, funky-looking veggies you may pass by every week in the produce section, or have trouble even naming? On your next trip, take a slow walk down the produce aisle and try a new vegetable every week.
Try a new whole grain product
Most grain products are made from white flour and wheat-containing products that are usually quite processed and stripped of their fibre and other nutrients. On your next bread or pasta run, give some of these a try: kamut, spelt, brown rice, buckwheat, or even quinoa.
Add seeds and nuts
Nuts and seeds tend to be forgotten or scarce in our modern day diet. This is unfortunate, because they are packed with many essential vitamins, oils, and minerals. It is a great snack option for the kids when they get home and are waiting for dinner to be prepared. Add them to your salads, oatmeal, morning cereal, and even smoothies. As a note, it is always better to purchase the raw version of nuts. The roasted ones have been processed at high heats, which turns their delicate oils rancid and susceptible to free radicals.
Reduce sugar intake
This suggestion is probably no big surprise. The issues with white sugar have long been documented and talked about in the media. While it would be difficult to eliminate all refined sugar from the diet, it would be worthwhile to reduce your family’s intake. You may be surprised to also learn that sugar directly impacts our immunity and actually supresses it for hours after consumption. It reduces the ability of our white blood cells to kill germs, and interferes with the transport of vitamin C (a key antioxidant) into our cells.
One veggie meal a week
If your family is accustomed to meat being the star of every meal, try a veggie meal once a week. You can start with easy dishes, like a veggie chili, or a pasta primavera, where the missing meat may not be noticed as much.
These are just a few suggestions to get your year started on a healthy note. Remember, every little change that you make puts you 100 steps ahead of where you were before. Take one change at a time and figure out what works best for you and your family.