Over and over I hear clients expressing frustration over trying to be a short-order cook. Does this sound familiar?

Client: Well, I have to get my kids ready in the morning and make sure they have their breakfast and get their lunches packed, so by that time, I basically have time for coffee and just try to grab something at work for lunch. Then, for dinner, well, I’d make xyz, but the kids don’t really like that, so I make something for them first and then try to just eat the healthy parts of it, like the veggies, but I often just end up snacking on something after they get done eating.

Do you find yourself nodding along? Does this echo a similar routine at your house? Here’s the thing, healthy eating isn’t just for weight loss. Your kids, your family, you will all benefit from nutritious eating. Why wait until your children are suffering health complications to make a change? I know, I know – but they don’t LIKE vegetables/they only eat mac and cheese or pizza, etc. etc. I get it; let’s be honest, if we had our way, we’d all eat pizza and ice cream if given the option, for all meals, including myself! Just because we like sweets and junk food doesn’t mean we can forgo healthier options. Your kids are no exception. They have to learn to eat nutritious food. And you are the best example of that.

Making your weight loss and health journey a family affair not only benefits your entire family, but can make your own journey a bit easier.  When you can focus on making just one thing for each meal for EVERYONE, you’ll find you have more time and energy to prep meals. You’ll save money shopping for ingredients for only three meals a day, instead of six, or nine, trying to suit everyone’s preferences. Plus, what’s good for you and your weight loss journey is good for everyone in the family! Ok, great, so everyone eats the same, healthy meals – sounds nice, right? But, how the heck do you manage that!?
I’ll present you with a few different strategies to help motivate and encourage more family meals. At the core of each, however, is child involvement. Children who are able to be involved in the decision making process are more apt to try new foods and eat healthier options than those who are forced to eat something. Depending on the age of your child, one approach may be a better fit than another. For example, if you have little ones, try letting them do as much of the “feeding” themselves. They are at a critical age of seeking independence and allowing them to try to maneuver that avocado chunk from the table to their mouths is a huge adventure.  Yes, it may be messy, but children are meant to be messy! As children get older, allow them to help with meal planning and grocery shopping. Perhaps allow each child to select one new fruit or vegetable for the whole family to try this week. Or instigate a one bite rule; everyone must have at least one bite of everything at the table, including mom and dad! Give children options, but structure the options. You want your child to eat a veggie with dinner? Great, ask them if they would like carrots or broccoli. Your child gets to make the choice, but you get them to eat a veggie!

Want more ideas for your picky eaters? Come on it for an appointment and make your personal journey one from which the whole can benefit!

Aubrey MS RDN