Being healthy, and eating healthy is important to our family. I like to think of myself as a healthy person. I like to think that I (almost) always choose healthy options and make healthy decisions.
We all know the benefits of eating healthy. It keeps our heart healthy, our cholesterol down, helps us maintain a healthy body weight. It is important that our children are healthy and form healthy habits when they are young so they grow into healthy adults.
But in reality, eating healthy feels just so hard, particularly when we’re busy or travelling so much, right?
Proudly sponsored by ACT Health, Good Habits for Life
I’m a fairly busy person (aren’t we all?). I work a full time job, blog part time, am a student, a mum and a wife. With all these roles, sometimes being healthy doesn’t always seem convenient or easy or straight forward. I mean, just look at all the fast food options that are available as you walk through a mall or airport. These options are less than ideal for our health and the health of our family, yet they are so readily available and children are drawn to their bright coloured advertising and high sugar contents.
Yet, when you look at the ease of access to all these fast food options against the backdrop of 63% of Canberran adults and one quarter of Canberran children being overweight, suddenly being ‘busy’ and using the ‘easy’ option just doesn’t cut it anymore. Suddenly, teaching our children healthy eating habits at a young age is that much more important than choosing an easy option.
So, with this in mind, I have undertaken a review; tracking our eating habits (in other words). As a responsible mother, I need to ensure that we (my partner and I) are being the best role models for our child and giving our little one the best foundation for life. After all, I don’t want him to add to this already shocking statistic.
Keep track of your healthy habits from Good Habits for Life.
After tracking our eating habits over the last month, I have come to the conclusion that in general we eat pretty well, but with anything, there are ways where we can improve. We have a good variety of foods that mirror those recommended in the national health guidelines. These include eating a balance of grains, dairy, fruit, vegetables and meat. We also have the occasional chocolate.
Okay, sometimes it is more than the occasional chocolate, particularly over the last few summer months. I don’t hang my head in shame about this nor do I try to hide it. Life is about moderation, balance and happiness, right?
But, I can definitely acknowledge that we can add a few more fruits and veggies into our diets, without compromising on our indulgences (aka our chocolate).
There are the improvements I have made:
- Firstly, we switched to dark chocolate as it has less sugar than milk chocolate, and you don’t need as much to feel satisfied.
- We started adding chopped or grated vegetables (i.e. carrot, zucchini) or finely chopped up spinach into our traditionally non-vegetable dishes aka spaghetti bolognaise, meatballs and lasagna.
- We added a side of vegetables to all meals, and our main meal was smaller in size
- We cooked extra vegetables for dinner, then with the left over veggies, combined them into a veggie patty for the following days lunch (great for littlies)
- We started buying seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables (they were also cheaper!)
- Lastly, we started taking cut up carrot, cucumber, cheese and nuts in small containers for family outings and car trips.
For other healthy options, check out Good Habits for Life.
Zucchini slice is a favourite with our family
While these improvements were easy to make at home, we found that we needed a lot of planning in order to continue this healthy eating when we went on holiday. After all, grating vegetables into meals or making vegetable patties is inconvenient and unrealistic on camping trips.
Like many Canberrans we travel to the coast for our holiday away. Traditionally, we have always packed a truck load of chocolate, lollies, and chips, particularly for the car trip.
Why, do we do this?
I think it is because we see these items as ‘easy’ and as ‘treats’ and we all think that they won’t impact our health having them as a once off. But, we all know it’s never just a once off.
The night before we left, I made a bunch of healthy meals, such as zucchini slice and roasted vegetables. I included some basic salad ingredients to put together at a moment’s notice. And I baked a banana cake. Yup, we still had some indulgences too! We love banana cake.
Zucchini slice, banana cake, roasted veggies, salad rolls, fruit and yoghurt – what we prepared before our holiday
While planning to eat healthier took some preparation and forward thinking, I found it was easier to eat in this way while we were on holiday, than what we had traditionally done with our treats. Everything was already prepared, so I spent little time cooking and preparing dinners/lunches/snacks.
By planning to eat healthy while we were away, we taught our son that just because we were ‘busy’ and had a change in routine, that didn’t meant that we were going to eat poorly. In fact, I am convinced that because we ate so well, we enjoyed our break that much more! We were happier, slept better, and had more energy each day.
So, what did I learn from this whole experience?
Healthy eating is actually easier and cheaper than fast food options. It is easy to eat healthy foods on holiday as it is at home. All it requires is some planning, forward thinking, and creativity about eating healthy. Most importantly I learnt that being ‘busy’ or out of routine isn’t a good enough excuse to eat poorly, and that teaching healthy eating habits early to young children will improve their overall quality of life.
What’s your favourite healthy meal for the family? Please share the recipe….