Ditch Dramatic Dietary ShiftsIN SEASONAL HEALTH
When it comes to clearing your family’s diet of junk food, don’t expect to change overnight. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, small dietary modifications can pack a healthy punch over time.
Children and adults tend to gain weight slowly and over time. Similarly, weight isn’t typically lost with dramatic, quick changes in diet. By introducing healthy changes slowly—with just one or two changes a week—you can help your family maintain healthy eating habits and weight.
Small Steps for Progress
Follow these suggestions for incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your family’s diet.
- Start slowly. Some children may be hesitant about new foods, and it may take multiple tries with healthy foods. Implement various preparation techniques or low-fat dips to accompany a new food to make it seem more familiar.
- Shift your snacking. Take into consideration what snack foods your family enjoys. Substitute some of these items for healthier alternatives, such as popcorn instead of chips, frozen juice bars instead of ice cream, and graham crackers instead of cookies.
- Incorporate salads into meals more frequently. Have your child help “build” the salad and let him or her experiment with different shaped and sized vegetables. Use low-calorie dressings, and show your children how much dressing to use.
- Cut out high-fat spreads, dips and dressings, such as mayonnaise, and teach your family to use these sparingly. Introduce low-fat spreads, such as hummus.
- Vary what’s between the bread. Use lean meats, such as turkey, on your family’s sandwiches and see if they notice.
- Find family friendly vegetarian recipes for main dishes, like lasagna, that incorporate seasonal vegetables.
- Encourage a gradual change from high-calorie, sugar-laden drinks and sodas to water.
| Lead By Example
By implementing these incremental changes throughout the family’s diet, you can set a great example of healthful eating behaviors for younger children. Also, encouraging the entire family to make some of these changes won’t single out a child who is overweight.
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Sources: mypyramid.gov, healthychildren.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov