Avoid these common parental diet pitfalls to cultivate healthier (and slimmer!!!) eating habits in no time… and remember there is nothing better than apples and hardboiled eggs for a healthy mobile nutritious snack. Also look on our website under the recipe index! All the yummy nutritious recipes are filed and ready for you to use. There is also a very handy section with loads of lunchbox ideas for healthy superkids, super mommies and super daddies too.
EATING ENDLESS EMPTY CALORIES AT BIRTHDAY PARTIES:
PITFALL: Every weekend, it’s another kiddie party. So every weekend, you end up mindlessly munching pizza, hot dogs, chips and cake.
GET BACK ON TRACK: Before you leave for the party, take the edge off your hunger with a snack that combines protein, fibre and water. Try: ¼ cup of hummus with unlimited amounts of your favourite vegetables (baby carrots, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, celery or bell peppers). To avoid grazing out of boredom, start a conversation with another parent or offer to help the host. Arm yourself with a low-calorie beverage, like club soda with a splash of juice, to occupy your hands and taste buds. Dying for a piece of cake? Go ahead, but make it a small one—and be sure to resist the urge to finish your kid’s slice after she licks off the frosting.
CLEANING YOUR KIDS’ PLATES:
PITFALL: Two chicken nuggets and a mouthful of corn was just enough for your 4-year-old. You’re not hungry yourself, but you hate to let the rest of her food go to waste.
GET BACK ON TRACK: It seems harmless to pick up a bite here, a mouthful there. But they add up: Each forkful of an indulgent food is around 50 calories a pop, meaning four extra bites of mac and cheese would cost you a whopping 200 calories. Do that twice a week and you’ll gain 6 pounds in a year without even noticing. A simple strategy to help you break the habit: For the next few days, every time you’re about to pick off your kids’ plates, put those bites into a container in the fridge instead of your mouth. Seeing just how much it amounts to is likely to be a wake-up call. Still tempted? As soon as your kids are finished, remove the plates from the table and run them under water, ruining the food. Few things are less appealing than wet French-fries. Even better: If your children are 6 or older, teach them to scrape their plates into the garbage when they’re done, so you never deal with their leftovers. If you do not like to waste food by scraping it into the garbage, keep it for your pet or collect and freeze for someone else’s.
GOING OVERBOARD ON THE BAKED GOODS:
PITFALL: You love making cookies and muffins with the kids. The downside: Someone’s got to eat all those goodies.
GET BACK ON TRACK: Baking doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Swap in whole-wheat flour for white flour, applesauce instead of butter or oil, and raisins for chocolate chips. Shrink portions by making mini muffins or bars and halving recipes so you have fewer leftovers. Remember, too, that you also can have your children help prepare healthy meals. A few fun ways to get the kids involved: Take them shopping and ask them to pick vegetables and fruits that will build a rainbow salad. (One rule: If they choose it, they have to try it!) Browse through a healthy cookbook or a blog like yummiberry together and have them select a recipe to help make for dinner. Give them age-appropriate tasks when you’re in the kitchen, whether it’s rinsing veggies, mixing a salad or stirring a sauce. It’s a great opportunity to instill proper eating habits—and kitchen skills—that can last a lifetime.
MAKING TWO DINNERS EVERY EVENING:
PITFALL: You cook something fast and kid-friendly for your children to eat early, then another meal for the grown-ups later. But when you’re sitting at the table with the kiddos, you can’t help but sneak a bite or two (or more).
GET BACK ON TRACK: Do yourself a favour and cut out the extra work by making one meal the whole family can enjoy together. Try creating leaner versions of your kids’ favourites, such as turkey tacos, pizza made with toasted whole-wheat pita bread and reduced-fat mozzarella, baked sweet-potato fries and oven-baked chicken fingers. Still, if you’ve got little kids, chances are they need to eat on the early side to accommodate their bedtime. In that case, sit down with them while they have their dinner and enjoy your own “starter”—for example, a small salad sprinkled with flaxseed for extra protein, hummus and veggies or a broth-based soup. Such options are all low in calories but fill you up—which prevents you from overeating later. Your partner also can refuel with the same starter and then jump in to help with bedtime. Once the kids are tucked in, enjoy your main course together, knowing that you’re in control of your mealtime decisions.
PITFALL: You’re out running errands or chauffeuring the kids to and from activities when hunger strikes. Everyone is starving, and the drive-through is the easiest way to feed them fast.
GET BACK ON TRACK: You can find diet-friendly options on the menu of most fast-food places. Your best bet is probably a grilled (not crispy or breaded) chicken sandwich, a wrap or a salad with condiments and dressings on the side. For breakfast, grab oatmeal, an egg-white sandwich or a fruit-and-yogurt parfait. Better yet, stock your freezer and pantry with healthful options that can be whipped up in a pinch as soon as you get home: frozen pizza with whole-grain crust, whole-wheat pasta with tomato sauce and broccoli or frozen entrées (choose meals that contain lean protein, veggies and a whole grain such as brown rice, are 350 calories or less and are low in sodium). Serve with a pre-portioned bag of sliced apples or carrots and dinner is done.
PITFALL: You’re so busy rushing around that you skip lunch—and are ravenous by the end of the day.
GET BACK ON TRACK: Although skipping meals might seem like an easy way to cut calories, not eating all day and then sitting down to a big meal is one of the worst things you can do. Not only are you likely to overeat once you have dinner, but going so long without eating actually slows your metabolism—your body thinks it’s starving! If you really don’t have time to sit down, keep portable, healthy options on hand: granola bars, yogurt, 100-calorie packs of almonds, cheese sticks, brown-rice cakes or an apple. Schedule mealtimes into your day (program lunch into your calendar if you have to!), and do a big food prep on Sunday so you don’t have to think about what you’re making throughout the week and there’s always a good-for-you meal ready to pull out of the fridge.
GORGING ON GUMMIES:
PITFALLS: When you pass out cookies, chips and fruit leather, you end up treating yourself, too.
GET BACK ON TRACK Offer up healthy snacks first—your little ones might be just as happy with a piece of fruit or some nuts as they would with a bag of chips or cookies. If you’re shaking your head and thinking, Not my kid, then you might have to get a little more creative. Try serving “sandwiches” made of apple slices and almond butter; jazz up plain yogurt with a tablespoon of chocolate chips; sprinkle cinnamon on air-popped popcorn; blend a frozen banana into a thick puree for “ice cream.” You can still keep the fish crackers and bunny grahams; just control the portions. Stock up on 100- calorie bags and pass out one per person (yes, that’s one for you, too!).
DON’T eat a morning snack. Dieters who didn’t snack between breakfast and lunch lost more than 4 percent more weight (about 7½ more pounds) in a year than morning snackers, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Morning munchies likely happen out of habit rather than true hunger.
DON’T skip snacks altogether. In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers found that the longer folks had gone without eating, the more interested they were in high-calorie foods. Try to eat every three to four hours to keep blood sugar levels steady and stable.
DO have treats. Small indulgences help you lose weight and keep it off, research says. Depriving yourself makes you yearn for treats more—and you’re more likely to binge when you do cave. Go for quality treats: 1 ounce of 75 percent dark chocolate, one glass of red wine or ½ frozen banana with almond butter and dark-chocolate chips. *All You Magazine, August 2015*