This happens. You’ve been so busy lately, you were glad you managed to put something — anything — on the dinner table. The kids, of course, didn’t mind that you served their favorite take-out Thai on Monday, mac and cheese from a box on Tuesday, delivery pizza on Wednesday … you get the gist. But enough already, you think. It’s time to rein in the family’s dinner menu.
One fine morning, you wake up and decide to really (re-)commit yourself to mindfully planning and preparing a healthy dinner, starting tonight. You browse ZisBoomBah’s Ultimate Food Guide for Parents for healthy dinner ideas. You select a yummy, wholesome dish, you shop, you cook a healthy dinner from fresh, real ingredients. You feel really good about it.
In the meantime, however, your went about their lives as usual. And from the way dinner has been going all week, your kids fully expect something along the lines of hot dogs with fries and ketchup as they are bursting through the door. Who can blame them?
But, mom made ZisBoomBah’s Salmon Cakes with Lemon Green Beans (which, dished up under the right circumstances, are delicious, by the way!). The kids curl their lower lips in disappointment. Think you are raising an ungrateful bunch? Not so fast …To help you understand why it’s a bad idea to spring healthy dinner on your family without warning, despite your best intentions, we sat down with ZisBoomBah psychologist Beth Lonergan, PsyD, who gave us fabulous advice on setting expectations and guiding kids through the transitions to healthier eating:
(Too) Great Expectations: How to ease your family (back) into a healthy dinner routine
Consistency and intermittent reinforcement are essential to successfully establishing new healthy habits or getting your family back on track if you’ve fallen off the wholesome dinner wagon. “If you expect a child to do something you haven’t done until then, it depends on the age how to best approach this,” says Dr. Lonergan. “Little ones need a period of transition, whereas older kids will likely do best if you involve them in the process.”
Rather than working out alone how to get your family to eat healthier — starting tonight at 6 o’clock, no less — plan together.
Did You Know …
Create a healthy meal plan together, starting by incorporating more of the vegetables and other healthy foods your kids already love, instead of introducing new foods right away. The one thing our psychology expert always stresses when we are talking about change is to begin by focusing on what you are already doing right. “Build your new healthy lifestyle gradually,” Dr. Lonergan says. “Start with the known, safe stuff, then bring in variety.”
Picking out recipes together and involving your children in the shopping for ingredients is a great start. “Most kids are motivated by spending that quality time with a parent and getting that attention,” Dr. Lonergan says. “Make sure the kids have a part to play, rather than making this something that is done TO them. Nobody likes that.”
NEW e-book by ZisBoomBah: 21 Days to a Healthier Family
Even better … With our new e-book “21 Days to a Healthier Family,” we’ve created a plan FOR YOU! The program promises a doable transition to your best family lifestyle with less stress, more adventure and healthier habits.
ZisBoomBah’s team of health, nutrition and fitness experts, including Dr. Lonergan, have created a 21-day program that will guide your family to a healthier lifestyle in three simple steps per day.