By Megan Sewards, RD

Wanting to eat healthier is a common goal for most. Whether you want to lose weight, cut down on processed foods, or eat cleaner for disease management or prevention, bottom line is that it takes work and all the support you can get along the way is helpful. Family support is essential when best achieving your personal goals of nutrition and health.

I often hear, “I have been eating better yet my husband isn’t happy with what I’ve been cooking” or “ I have to buy chips and make pizza since that’s what my kids like.” Why does healthy eating have to be individualized just for you? Health and nutrition should be a goal for your whole family. Start kids young on what healthy eating means, and have your significant other understand the importance on why you are making changes.

Below are some suggestions on getting the whole family involved with your nutrition goals.

  1. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. It helps fuel your brain for focus at school or work and often promotes regular meal/snack schedule throughout the day.
    Dietitian’s breakfast suggestion: Oatmeal with fresh berries, sliced almonds and a drizzle of honey or whole grain toast with sliced avocado and 2 scrambled eggs.
  1. Have your family plan and help prepare 1 meal each week. Let them be involved with grocery list/shopping. This allows them to feel included in what your family eats and they won’t feel like Mom or Dad has taken over and is forcing them to eat something. Make going to the farmer’s market or grocery store a family excursion.
    Dietitian’s suggestion: Even if they pick mac and cheese or pizza, utilize healthy substitutions to cook what they want in a more nutritional way. i.e Use cauliflower crust for pizza, low fat cheese (lightly sprinkled), or use whole grain pasta with light cheese and you can always add veggies into either idea.
  1. Eat together as a family as often as possible. This promotes structure around meal time. It enforces that meal time should be a family affair vs. stopping off at a fast food joint. Cooking in the home usually promotes healthier/balanced eating.
    Dietitian’s suggestion: Get feedback from family on what they thought about the meal cooked. What do they like vs. what would they change. Will help them be part of the lifestyle change; discuss with them what was cooked and why it is healthy for you + them.
  1. Eat more vegetables and fresh fruits. We know that you know this, but it bears repeating because it really does make a difference. Every meal or snack should have veggies or fruit included. Keep fruits to <4x/day to avoid unwarranted sugar intake and push green leafy veggies.
    Dietitian’s Suggestion: It may be difficult for your little ones to want to eat this quantity. However, by preparing meals and snacks at home, it is easier to fold these foods into meals. Easy options include: pasta sauces, veggies added to pizza, tacos, noodles and smoothies.
  2. Keep healthy snacks handy in the home. Foods that are available in the home are often what we eat on a regular basis. Making sure foods such as hummus, whole grain crackers, veggie sticks, nut butters, yogurt, fresh fruits, low fat string cheese, whole food protein/nut bars, and hard boiled eggs amongst other options are readily available for the grab-and-go kind of snack.

Need more ideas or specific info? Call 818.906.3022 to schedule an appointment at weSPARK with our nutritionist, Megan Sewards, RD. 

weSPARK Cancer Support Center is located in Los Angeles and offers completely FREE programs, workshops, classes and individual therapies to cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones.  Remember to take a look at our monthly program schedule for more information about the services we offer.

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