by Thomas Haus, MD, Family Medicine
Instead of vowing to adhere to a new fad diet in 2020 – or if you’ve already let that resolution go – why not take a fun and subtle approach to a healthier lifestyle: Set a goal of introducing new foods into your family menu.
Look to more lean meats, eggs, and whole grains you can buy at a local market. Experiment with high protein, plant-based foods such as quinoa, tempeh, chickpeas, edamame, lentils, almonds, etc. In addition to being high in protein, many of these foods offer essential vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and fiber your body needs to be healthy from the inside out.
Introducing healthier foods will allow you to continue eating most of your favorites, but, as with any new food, you may eat smaller portions and you will be choosing healthier alternatives. It may take some time to find selections your family likes and are reasonably simple to prepare. Aim to try one new recipe a month, then write it on the calendar and make a fun family night around it. Discuss with your family what and why you are doing this. And be sure to talk to your children about normal serving sizes.
While this information is not taught in school, it is very beneficial for them to know. Even if their eyes are rolling and your first effort at introducing new types of food is not a resounding success, the kids are still learning. It is important to model diverse eating patterns to children at an early age so they will develop good lifelong habits. These habits will help them stay leaner and enjoy a wider variety of foods when they are older.
This may sound like a little extra work, but speaking from experience, the benefits more than outweigh the initial extra effort. While most people think eating better is simply a matter of willpower, the reality is that being prepared is much more important. Approach your new way of eating as opening up to a new world of foods, flavors, textures, and combinations to try. The lasting effects for you, your kids and grandkids – not to mention your waistline – make this method much more fun and appetizing than a few weeks of a crash diet.