5 healthy choices for family dining.
Parents today are becoming more and more conscious of what their family is ingesting. Some parents are finding themselves restricting more of what their family is eating to ensure better health for their loved ones. When it comes to dining, free fries and sugary pancakes can make it tough for mom and dad to boost and promote healthier choices. By instilling a few new habits into your family’s routine, you can make better, healthier choices for your family’s dining experiences.
Focus on veggies
Try to enjoy veggie-intensive cuisines. Indian food can often be completely vegetarian. Vietnamese restaurants often offer soups and rice bowls loaded with veggies. Stop and enjoy gluten-free Chinese food, packed with flavor and nutrients. Make sure you check out local Mediterranean restaurants for salads that will have you salivating.
Many sandwich shops offer wraps and veggie burgers. Even if you can only get chips with your sandwich, you can open up a veggie-intensive sandwich and enjoy it with a fork and knife to cut down on your salt and fat intake.
The American family’s plate has gotten bigger and bigger each year. A simple way to cut both cost and portion sizes is to ask small children to split with mom or dad. If your older children resist this, try splitting 3 entrees between 4 people. If you ask for an extra dinner plate, you can easily portion out a large dinner plate to ensure healthy restrictions when it comes to food consumption for your family.
Ordering from the “sides” portion of the menu can work as well. You can enjoy a baked potato, a side salad, or sauteed veggies instead of a large entrée. If anyone in your clan is especially resistant to this, consider offering to split a special dish. You may not be able to order steak and lobster for everyone, but splitting this dish can be quite filling for both parties and may be quite a treat.
When it comes to splurging for a pizza at the end of a long week, make sure to pick up a couple of bagged salads as well. To maintain healthy portion sizes, make sure that every piece of pizza is paired with a scoop of salad or a slice of fresh fruit.
You may have family members who don’t like salad. Consider offering carrot sticks, radish slices, and celery with a dipping pot of dressing to change things up. Takeout can be hard to make healthy, but if you can break up the bulk of pizza or burgers with fresh veggies, you can at least increase the fiber content of the meal.
Consider a salad bar
If your travels take you to a restaurant with an extensive salad bar, celebrate! Small children can often struggle with new tastes and textures and you may have stopped preparing your favorites because of pushback. Many salad bars offer much more than greens or prepared salads. You can add protein and treat yourself to
- Cold crab
- Tuna salad
Do take care to avoid too much sugar and fat; make at least half the plate a salad of raw veggies. Enjoy a dab of homemade potato salad, pea salad if you’re in the Midwest, and cole slaw. Round out the plate with pickles for a bit of tang. If your children refuse certain veggies and you love them, make sure you load up! This is a wonderful chance to offer them some beets or pickled mushrooms.
Make a walk part of your treats
Of course, there are hot summer days when your family just has to have an ice cream cone. To make it a bit healthier, consider combining your ice cream retreat with a walk. If you are already out running errands, park your vehicle far from the door and stroll to the ice cream shop as a group for a bit of exercise before your treatment.
This is a great opportunity to teach your family the discipline of working for the things they want. By taking the walk alongside your children, you become a good example for them when instilling better habits. Make sure that you mirror those healthy choices for your children. If your little ones are too small to bicycle safely, take a group walk to your closest park and share out fruit juice popsicles on your way.
Managing portion control, focusing on fresh rather than fried foods, and lowering your high-fat or fried meat intake are all critical to eating healthier. It takes children time to develop self-control, and it really starts with parents practicing self-control when it comes to building healthier habits. If you are dining with children on a family vacation or while running errands, ask for a second plate and split out large portions.