Eliminate The Bad OptionsWhen I was a child, I remember how ravenous I felt walking out of those school doors at the end of the day. I could have eaten anything my mother or caregiver had to offer as soon I got home. Luckily, my mom and babysitter tried their best to have more nutritious options available in the fridge as opposed to the junk food alternatives some of my friends were having. At first it was difficult for me get used to the overwhelmingly healthful options which included sliced veggies, bean soups, chilis, fruits, and whole grain breads while my friends were talking about the cheese puffs and potato chips they had at their homes. However, I started to crave these foods after a while and stopped thinking about the other options because they were simply never available when I arrived home. The lesson I learned from this experience which I’ve brought into my family life today is to only keep what you would like to be eating in your house. This means being very conscious about the types of snacks that you keep in your home. It is most difficult at first, so some people may take a partial approach to this by holding onto a couple of comfort foods. But when I observe people’s behavior, I notice we are more likely to eat what’s in our home regardless of what it is when we are in a desperately hungry state. By this time, we might not feel like going back out to the store when there’s something already in front of us. So, “trick” your family into making better snack choices by giving them only one choice to begin with a more nutritious one.
Help your Family Help ThemselvesThis next step is almost as important as the first one. While I love creating snacks and meals on a whim for my family, it can get time consuming and incredibly demanding. I also noticed they would eat healthier if food was prepared and ready to eat rather than leaving them to choose their own. So, I decided to help my family help themselves by prepping and allocating portions of healthier foods once or twice a week. My goal is to make grabbing their afternoon snacks as easy as possible for them. I usually make a mental menu of 3-4 choices that can be mixed and matched. Some of the separate snacks containers would include yogurt, granola, hummus, sliced vegetables (including celery, carrots, grape tomatoes, & snow peas), crusty bread, marinara sauce, cheese, avocado spread, pretzels, fruit and more. They can then make a plate full of veggies that can be dipped in the hummus or avocado spread with a side of DIY pizza they can make themselves using the cheese and marinara sauce and fruit. At times, I make a listing of possible pairings as a guide for them to follow and post it on the fridge. This helps them come up with their own ideas without relying on me to walk them through the possible combinations step-by-step. This is a fun way to get everyone involved in making better choices on a daily basis. These are just a couple of easy ways to tackle the ever present after school snack dilemma. More than anything, trying to anticipate behaviors surrounding food and working with rather than against them can make the process easier in the long run.
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