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The Basics: 5 Steps To Creating Family Health
I often make resolutions this time of year to create healthy meals every single day of the school year.
Planning ahead to create health- ful meals is an important part of keeping a strong immune system, and an optimally functioning brain. Thus, aiding the ability to learn. It also provides us as parents an opportunity to teach about nutrition in a practical hands-on way with our kids.
Lets break the planning process down into easy to follow steps:
1. Make Meal Plans. Meal Plans take the stress out of weekdays and lets busy households run on auto pilot around what is usually a stressful part of the day for most families. You can use my meal planning worksheet to simplify this process. Keep the weekly meal plans you develop. Soon you will have four or six meal plans and you can begin to reuse and rotate your plans.
2. The Biggest Meal of the Day Should Be Breakfast. Avoid refined sugar and prepared cereals. Plan on breaskfasts like real homemade oatmeal and raisins or eggs or pancakes with real maple syrup or granola and yogurt and fruit salad. With some planning and a little exptra preparation time good nutrition at breakfast will create a healthy foundation for school and work days. Here are some recipies and ideas for Healthy Breakfasts.
3. Make Lunches the Night Before. An after dinner habit that is great to develop for both kids and adults who leave home to go to work and school is preparing part or all of their lunch the evening before. One less thing in the morning relieves a lot of stress and ensures healthy breakfasts and lunches. Try to send as many healthy and homemade items in the lunch box as possible. Aboid prepared foods such as cookies and lunchables and granola bars as they are often high in refined sugars and bad fats. Opt instead for muffins you can make yourself or homemade cookies, granola, plain yogure. Look for items that come in their own packagine - like fruit and vegetables. Think beyond sandwiches - send vegetables, hoummous, guacamole, sushi, california rolls, pasta, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, soups, grilled chicken and grilled fish. Less processed meats and less carbohydrates will allow you to be creative with healthy proteins and whole grains.
4. Plan To Eat Dinner Early. Eating your last big meal before 6pm will not only help your body digest the meal well but it allows for maximum absorption of minerals and also encourages sound sleeping. As a parent of three growing boys I've noticed that they are most ravenous just as they get home from school. Rather than filling them up with snack foods and having them avoid their healthy dinner we decided as a family to move our dinner time to 4:15 pm. This has worked well for our family and was a creative solution to hungry boys constantly in the fridge after school.
5. Involve Your Kinds in Meal Planning. You will find that your kids are more likely to eat helathy foods that they help to plan and prepare. It is also an opportunity to involve your children of any age in the process of actually planning a meal and allows spontaneous discussion around healthy coices, your families values around healthy nutrition and allows you to offer information around basic nutritonal building blocks like vitamines. minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
An awareness of healthy, wholesome nutrition is a gift you give to your children. It allows them to build on this knowledge as they move toward adolescence and adulthood. Healthy nutrition is the foundation for life-long good health. Teach your children well.