With Halloween right around the corner, the food-centered holiday season is quickly coming upon us. Though you can’t control everything your family eats, you can make just a few changes in your household to encourage healthier eating.
5 Easy tricks for healthier family meals
Ditch the candy bowl
Regardless of the time of year, having a bowl of candy in plain view and for the frequent picking is never a good idea. In sight means in mouth for most kids and adults alike. Replace the candy with packs of raisins, nutrition bars, snack bags of granola or trail mix, and even fresh fruit, such as bananas and apples.
Rely on healthy make ahead meals
The crazy busyness of the season certainly drives many of us to convenience foods that typically have more calories, sodium, fat, sugar and other less-than-desirable ingredients than homemade meals. Take the time at the beginning of the week to batch cook healthy casseroles or other fix-and-freeze dishes that can be microwaved or reheated in the oven at a moment’s notice. Placing a ready-to-heat casserole in the oven is far easier than shopping, preparing, cooking, and clean-up of the same dish, especially at the end of a jam-packed day.
Start the day with a power smoothie
Waffles and pancakes are perfect for breakfast but are typically on the generous side of calories with all the maple syrup and vegan butter. Save yourself time — and boost the nutrition of your family’s most important meal of the day — by making smoothies in the morning. Fruit, greens, vegan yogurt, flax, nut butters, and smoothie mixes give you a healthy and fuss-free way to get your family quickly fed in the morning.
Serve soup or salad with lunch and dinner
The seasonal drop in temperatures turns our appetites towards comfort foods that are fine in moderation but can promote weight gain if over-eaten. Research shows that starting a meal with a soup or salad can reduce the total number of calories a person will consume in that meal compared to just eating an entree. Stick with broth-based soups and dress your greens with homemade olive oil vinaigrettes.
Tune in to your meals
Eating in the living room watching TV may feel relaxing but it doesn’t allow for you and your family to bond together around a meal. Mindless eating can also lead to eating too much because you don’t focus on your hunger or satiety. Prioritize sitting down at the dinner table as a family without technology — no smartphones, TV, iPads or other tech gadget — and enjoy eating, drinking, and communicating face to face. Relaxing during your mealtimes can ease stress-eating that so often occurs this time of year.