Whether you’re starting a new school year or just adding more tasks to a growing to-do list, it’s easy for mealtime to take a backseat. In fact, mealtime often gets moved to the backseat – nothing makes a drive-thru more appealing than a packed schedule and a car full of empty bellies!
If dinnertime feels like a battle and fast food beckons, it’s probably because a lot of tired, hungry voices are chiming in. But what the local burger joint has to offer isn’t worth the cost financially or to your family’s health.
By focusing on healthy eating throughout the day, you can help ease the way to a peaceful family dinner. Here are three steps for a positive eating routine that will serve you and your family well for life:
Step 1: Do Breakfast Right
How you finish your day has a lot to do with how you start it. Breakfast sets your metabolic tone for the day, and popular choices like high-sugar cereals or frozen waffles put your blood sugar on a rollercoaster, creating late-morning brain fog and fatigue. The fastest way to a 10 AM energy crash is to eat a muffin for breakfast!
You and your kids need the right nutrients to steady your blood sugar so you stay full and focused all morning. Think outside the cereal box with protein shakes, turkey and avocado wraps, pasture-raised hard-boiled eggs (if food intolerances aren’t an issue), or warmed-up leftovers from last night’s dinner. The chia pudding recipe at the end of this post is another great option.
Step 2: Eat by the Clock
Nobody makes good decisions when they’re starving! The temptation to snack between meals or order up a deep-dish pepperoni usually comes from screaming hunger hormones and tanking blood sugar levels.
In this case, prevention is the cure. Establish family mealtimes and stick with them. Meal timing is vital to developing lasting healthy habits, and consistency always pays off with your kids.
Helpful meal timing rules:
- Eat a balanced breakfast within an hour of getting up.
- Adults eat every 4-6 hours, while younger kids eat every 2-3 hours.
- Adults stop eating about 3 hours before bedtime.
Schedule regular meal times and sit at the table minus technology whenever possible. If you know you’ll be away from home at dinnertime, check out our recipes for nutritious foods that are easily portable. (Tasty gluten-free chicken tenders are always a hit!)
Step 3: Limit Snacking
Kids love to snack, but that urge doesn’t always come from genuine hunger. Maybe they’re bored and watching TV, when a commercial for their favorite sugar-loaded fruit gummies comes on – suddenly, they’re craving something sweet.
Children do need to eat more often than adults because little tummies can’t hold as much, and there’s a lot of important growing happening during childhood. But mindless eating with nutrient-empty foods sets the stage for obesity and other health problems, not to mention creating bad habits.
Keep fresh apple wedges with almond butter, sliced veggies with hummus, or protein bars on hand for times when dinner’s hours away, but they (and maybe you) need something to munch on. Be sure everyone stays hydrated, too – it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking enough water consistently will also help with brain function and energy levels.
Snacking can be especially tricky before bedtime. Make a rule that the kitchen closes after dinner each night for adults and older children. Who knows: your kids might even learn to load up on veggies at dinner to stay full!
These three steps don’t require a lot of drastic changes, but they can have a huge impact on your whole family’s health and happiness!
Want more tips for helping your kids eat healthy? Check out this article with fast, family-friendly strategies, and don’t forget to try out the yummy Berry Chia Seed Pudding recipe below.
Berry Chia Seed Pudding
August 29, 2016
The brain-boosting omega-3s in berries combined with the fiber and protein in chia seeds make this pudding a great breakfast option or naturally sweet treat. Best of all, chia pudding is so quick and easy that your kids can help make it. Involving your family and giving them ownership of their food choices is a great way to get kids on board with healthy eating!
Virgin Diet compliant: Cycles 1, 2, and 3
Sugar Impact Diet compliant: Cycles 1 and 3
- Prep: 5 mins
- Cook: 6 hrs
- Yields: 2-4 servings
1Combine the ingredients in a glass bowl, and stir well.
2Refrigerate overnight or up to 6 hours and enjoy!
*Because of the berries, you should pick a different breakfast option during Cycle 2 of the Sugar Impact Diet.
Original recipe from Alexandra Jamieson, CHHC
Thanks so much for reading! Don't forget to like this post and like us on Facebook.