Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Families Eating on the Run: 1 2 3

With all this talk of "soccer mom" on the news I'm reminded families with young children, single parent families and families with both parents working (which pretty much covers most of us) have challenges eating healthy on the run, driving here, there and everywhere!

How did all this healthy eating get started? I remember thinking "what would be something easy I could do that would not be too hard? You know a small step in the right direction?" Something easy to do. It came to me ... the easiest thing to do would be not step foot in a fast food restaurant and nor would my family for one year.

Easy? What was I thinking?

I didn't realize how much time I spent in the "got to have that toy", inside jungle gym "play place" which of course is the location of all "happy meals". Once I make a decision I stick to it and I could stick to this too. I had set the challenge before me and I was up for it. Me turn back? Never! After all I announced to all my friends my new eating plan "stay way from fast food places" so how could I turn back? Although, I have to admit my family did not share in my enthusiasm or commitment however they were along for the ride, mostly because I do all the driving.

This may seem like "too much time" but the next time you are sitting in the drive-in window with the kids screaming at each other, can't decide what they want and you are running late for where ever you are going... think about how much time you are wasting sitting there making yourself crazy and the kids too! Last time I checked there really is nothing "fast" about "fast food." Besides what could be faster than a apple and a glass of water?

Here is what I learned.... plan, enlist some help and reward success.

1. Plan ahead.
Remember the old saying "plan your work and work your plan'? Well here you go ...
  • Your car is your refrigerator, keep a cooler or reusable insulated bags in the car.
  • Freeze bottles of water to keep foods cold and for cold water later.
  • Have cold bottles of water ready to go.
  • If you like flavored water, make tea (decaffeinated), make lemonade in the bottles.
  • Snacks, divide into single portion sizes as directed on the package put in containers, zip lock bags.
  • Cut up fruit and veggies sprinkle with lemon juice prevent from turning brown.
  • Your car is also your trash can so keep trash bags handy. I keep extra in the trunk of my car.
  • Expect guests. Other children will love the snacks you have and will want some too!

2. Enlist some help.
Enroll your family in the program. Ask them for help, ideas and support. Make it fun. Once your family sees there is no turning back they will jump on board.

Snack ideas:
  • Whole wheat, rice crackers and cheese
  • Sliced apples (lemon juice) and natural peanut butter
  • Oranges pealed, sectioned
  • Brussel sprouts, Carrots, Broccoli, Green Beans raw or steamed
  • Green peppers, cucumbers sliced
  • Whole wheat pretzels
  • Pita bread, sliced and hummus
  • Hard boiled eggs, pealed
  • Chicken cubed
  • Protein, snack bars (no hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup)

3. Reward your success.
Any time you make a change there will be challenges the biggest challenge being your thinking. Many of the choices you make are from habit, what comes easy, without thought. So this will require some re-thinking. It's not easy for you or your family. Set small goals. I started with one week. Then 2 weeks, then 3. Success builds on success even small changes all up to big ones. Reward yourself. Decide what the reward will be in advance, enlist some help, when you reach your goal, celebrate!

It is now 6 years later. Funny how things are different since my family stopped eating at fast food joints. I lost 30 pounds (and have not put it back on), my kids never fight over where we are going to eat after school and we saved money on our food bill. The fast food places have continued to grow, as have our nations obesity epidemic for adults and children.
Maybe it really isn't funny at all.

Food for thought:
  • Reusable containers and bottles are good for you (easy) and good for the environment.
  • Anything you make yourself will be more healthy than anything you buy ready to go.
  • Any sugar you add will be lower in sugar than anything you buy.
  • If it comes out of the freezer it is not the "best" or even a "good" choice of foods.
  • The more convient the food is the more salt and unhealthy additives it has.
  • The lower the fat content the higher the sugar content.
  • The longer the self life ... the shorter your life.
I did make one more small change that was to enroll my children in the Juice Plus+ Children's Health Study, I consider it the "real health insurance - prevention".

1 comment:

Judy the Stepfamily Coach said...

Great suggestions for alternatives to fast food. You hit the nail on the head about how difficult it is to maintain healthy eating while being "on the go". As an in-home tutor and Stepfamily Coach, I am repeatedly reminded of these concerns in most families. I look forward to getting more ideas in the future.
Judy, The Stepfamily Coach