Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Hard if You Take Shortcuts
I was at Target yesterday and two toddler moms were in line behind me chatting about how crazy busy they are. One of the moms said she can’t remember the last time she put a fruit of vegetable in her mouth. I smiled because I remember a time when my oldest was almost six and my youngest was almost two when I joked with a friend that I may have scurvy.
I couldn’t remember the last time I ate anything healthy – definitely no fruit or vegetables were entering my body. Ironically, my kids have always eaten incredibly healthy food. They snack on organic fruit, they have vegetables with every meal and my oldest actually prefers vegetables to protein.
I was doing everything I could to ensure they were eating a healthy diet, yet I wasn’t eating any of the healthy food myself. By the time I chopped up all of the healthy vegetables and fruit for them and cooked their healthy meals, I was done. I didn’t want to prepare extra food for myself.
Even worse – I didn’t eat the healthy meals I prepared because I didn’t want to “waste” it on me. I would have cereal or scrambled eggs for dinner so that they could get another two healthy dinners out of the leftovers. I was working long hours and didn’t want to spend any extra time in the kitchen.
The problem? I wasn’t taking care of myself! As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, while I was busy making sure my kids were super healthy, their mom was falling apart.
Shortcuts for Healthy Eating
I know you’re busy. Being a mom is overwhelming. Whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, your plate is full…and not of vegetables! If you are struggling to eat a diet as healthy as your children’s, here are some shortcuts for upping your fruit and vegetable count.
- Cut the Extra Fruit: I chop so much fruit I could work at a fruit processing plant. Because I’m always chopping fruit for my kids, I hate to chop fruit for myself. I now make a point of chopping extra fruit for myself. If I’m chopping an apple for my boys, I go ahead and chop two. My three year old likes super thin apple slices without the peel. My 7 year old also likes super thin slices. I chop theirs how they like it and then chop one at the same time for myself (not so thin, no peel removed). It only takes an extra two minutes to get healthy food in my body.
- Take Shortcuts: If a big reason you are skipping healthy eating is that you don’t have time to cut and prep your vegetables, spend a little bit more money on pre-chopped vegetables. Yes, it costs more to buy pre-chopped vegetables, however, in the long run, it costs way more to buy vegetables in their natural state and throw them out because they rot before you get a chance to eat them. It also costs more to have a host of health problems that can come from having an unhealthy diet. You can cut costs on other groceries to make up the difference if you need to.
- Incorporate Healthy Foods Into Your Day: I’m not much of a snacker. I prefer to eat three solid meals. Lately, I’ve been having a smaller lunch and making a fruit and yogurt smoothie in the late afternoon. Bonus – it fills me up so much that I eat a much smaller dinner. If you don’t have the ability to make a smoothie mid-day, consider making a smoothie for breakfast. You can take it to work with you! You can also snack on carrot sticks, raw broccoli or bell pepper strips during the day. If you aren’t a fan of the taste of raw vegetables, dip it in hummus (my favorite), salsa or even ranch dressing. Just eat them!
- Hide Your Veggies: If you’re not a fan of vegetables, try hiding them in your food. When my oldest son was a toddler, he ate the same things every week – meatloaf, meatballs and spaghetti. Those were his favorites so I made big batches every week. Since I was making them myself, I would add shredded zucchini, squash or broccoli into his food. I have also been known to add frozen spinach into spaghetti sauce or pasta casseroles.
- Don’t Stress About the Recommendations: Rather than focusing on the “eat 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits from the rainbow, just do your best to eat as well as you can. Eat your favorites, even if they aren’t the healthiest. I hate kale and spinach. Hate. So you know what? I don’t eat them. I don’t try to sneak them into my smoothie to make it taste like something I won’t enjoy. I just try to eat what I do enjoy and pat myself on the back for getting the fruits and veggies into my body. Don’t strive for perfection, it’ll hold you back.
I’m not a health nut. I do my best to eat healthy and instill proper nutrition habits in my kids. I used to eat super healthy for weight loss/weight maintenance but once I had kids and got sick, my weight was pretty low on my priority list. It doesn’t hurt that my medication makes me nauseous so I don’t eat unhealthy snacks.
Even though I’m not a health nut, I definitely notice that I feel better when I eat more fresh, healthy foods. It also sets a good example for my kids. And finally, I find it balances my cookie habit. I make myself eat a piece of fruit or raw vegetables before I eat the cookie. They usually fill me up enough that I either don’t eat the cookie, or I just have one cookie.
Don’t put your own health on the back burner. You are worth the cost effort of eating fresh fruits and vegetables!