How healthy would you say your family’s eating habits are? You may be overestimating the quality of your menu. According to a survey, 75 percent of Americans say they’ve been eating healthily, despite plenty of evidence saying otherwise.
Medical and health experts say that the main problem with American diets is that you consume too many calories. A single serving of French fries may contain one third of your daily calorie requirement, but because they’re not very satisfying, you may eat too much food anyway. Americans also consume too much sugar, thanks to the proliferation of processed corn syrup found in so many edible products.
One of the main hurdles you may face when trying to improve your family’s diet is how expensive it can be. Studies have shown that the nutritional quality of food items depends on a household’s income. It’s much harder to be interested in the benefits of pulp in orange juice when you can’t afford it.
Here are eight ways you can introduce more healthy fare into your family menu without breaking the bank.
- Buy More Fruits
What are your family’s go-to snacks when they feel hungry? Odds are they reach into packets of sugar-laden cookies and other food that contain almost no vitamins and loaded with calories. Make it easier for them to eat healthy by buying more fruits. Local stores will have affordably priced produce that your family can snack on. For example, orange slices and peanut butter coated apple slices are yummy and delicious.
- Cut Down on Soda
Soda may be cheap and tasty but most of it is just corn syrup and fizzy water. When you and your family are thirsty, instead of cracking open a bottle of soda, why not just drink some water? If that’s too bland for you, water flavored products with fruit extracts contain less sugar. Or you can cut up a lemon and put some slices in a jug of water for a refreshing and healthier beverage.
- Drink More Water
On the subject of water, you should really be drinking more of it. Water not only staves off dehydration, it also helps your body flush out waste materials and aids regular digestion. Filling up on chocolate milk, lemonade, soda and coffee may be delicious, but pure, clean water will always be healthier.
- Get Rid of Junk Food
Junk food is hard to define, but generally speaking they can be described as food with high calorie contents but little nutritional value. Before you buy any snacks, frozen meals and the like, check their nutrition information in the back of the package. Assess whether each meal provides more than just sugar and carbs before putting it in your grocery cart. This will help you pump up your family’s nutritional food and cut down on empty calories.
- Eat at Home More Often
If you really want to be in control of how nutritious the food your family is going to scarf down will be, and how much you’re going to spend on ingredients, eat at home. Granted, many establishments are still closed due to lockdown measures, but by eating at home, you dictate the menu, the contents of each meal and the serving sizes. Instead of being tempted to up-size meals and gorge on buffets, your meals will be dictated by what’s available. This means you can eat reasonably without feeling like you’re not taking advantage of a good deal.
- Reduce Salt
Another ingredient you may be consuming too much is salt. You can find it in potato chips, French fries and as a flavoring in any number of processed meats. You could be sprinkling it all over your meals even though they already contain too much salt as it is. If you want to reduce salt consumption, be wary of how much you put “to taste” in your recipes. You should also remove the saltshaker from the table if you feel like your family over salts their meals.
- Set an Example
If you really want your family to eat healthy, you’ve got to set an example by eating healthy right alongside them. Make a personal commitment to do everything on this list. Drink less soda and more water, eat healthy snacks and cook food at home. This will help you convince your family members, especially younger children, to come around to eating healthy.
- Consult with Experts
Finally, always consult with a medical or dietary specialist before committing to large-scale changes in diet. Such a sudden change could have repercussions on your family’s health if you don’t meet with a healthcare professional. Have everyone in your family assessed at a local clinic so you can find out if there’s any dietary requirements your new menus will still have to fulfill, or you can accommodate for.
Promising to eat healthy on your own is already tough. Influencing your entire family to do so can be a monumental challenge. But with communication, honesty and commitment, you can improve your family’s well-being with a little common sense and some kitchen magic.