It’s taken me just about 5 years to decide what eating well meant for me and my family and I’m really happy with where we are. I feel like it’s totally attainable for your family too! You don’t need a health food store and a million dollars to eat well… making a few small changes will get you on the right track!
Healthy eating when it comes to our family means that we eat wholesome foods 80% of the time and the other 20% leaves us room for our favorite sweet and treats.
80% of the time: wholesome/whole/real foods
Avoiding: processed foods, artificial colors/flavors/preservatives, refined flours and sugars
Enjoying: whole grains, lots of protein, green vegetables, and fruit. I don’t have a pantry full of health-food-store-only-products;I tend to learn towards traditional or “old-fashioned” ingredients.
- We eat whole wheat/grain everything (almost…). I have a wheat grinder (awesome investment…) and grind my own flour for bread, muffins, biscuits, and rolls.
- We aren’t afraid of fat; there are way creepier things used in fat-free foods to make them taste OK than the calorie savings are worth.
- I know where most of our meat comes from, and we also enjoy lots of meatless meals. In fact, we have even raised our own meet lambs.
- Buying local is more important to me than buying organic.
- The more vegetables the merrier. Grow a garden; it’s amazing how much kids LOVE what they have invested themselves in and watched grow!
- We avoid artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.
- If I understand what’s in it and/or how it’s made then I generally will eat it.
- Natural sugars like honey and pure maple syrup are worth the cost and are great things to learn how to use. No need to figure out all those crazy natural sweeteners when bees and trees got us covered.
You don’t need a health food store to eat well, a back to basics approach goes a long long way.
The other 20% is: real life
- I don’t want to eat whole wheat cake with zucchini and agave for my birthday. We enjoy “normal” sugary treats when we have special occasions (though I am queen of the healthy cookie for everyday cookie needs).
- I’d much rather have my kids eat my butter, sugar, and white flour chocolate chip cookies than anything made with a box of sugar-free Jell-O. I’m more scared of all that fake stuff than normal old flour, sugar, chocolate, and butter.
- I don’t tell my kids they can’t have things when they are out of our house. Fruit snacks at play group? Sure. Cheetos at Grandma’s? Pop at the friend’s party? Ok. I do however try to make sure what they get in my house is good for them (80% of the time). I don’t buy otter-pops, fruit snacks, or soda. It’s never in the house and we never eat them here.
- I don’t want kids with food issues. I am intentional in my efforts to raise well-rounded kids who will try most anything, enjoy green smoothies, and who will enjoy treats when they are given them.
Balance is key.
Why am I telling you all this? Because it’s something I feel passionately about and want to share with you: I want you to do it, too! Healthy, local, and sustainable food practices are good for you, your family, your community, and our world. What’s not to love?!
Tips and Tricks Feeding your Family Healthier
I'm pretty sure you can figure out what to feed your family when it comes to the 20% part of my eating well food philosophy. But what about the other 80% of the time? Here are some tips and tricks to help you when it comes to feeding your family more wholesome foods.
- If you can't pronounce the ingredients, don't buy it.
- Learn the art of from-scratch cooking.
- Try, try, try, and try again. If your family didn't like a new-t0-them ingredient the first time, don't give up. Try preparing it a different way next time and keep trying. Your people may never like Brussels sprouts but you might find they love asparagus. You have to try to find out.
- Try to imagine life 100 years ago when people still ate full-fat farm fresh food. Cook like your great-grandma and you'll be doing yourself and your family a favor.
- You don't have to shop at a specialty store to eat healthy - keep it simple.
- Planning meatless meals or meals that feature lentils/beans/eggs for the main protein are budget and health friendly.
- Start planning your healthy meals by checking out my meal planning page. Having a plan makes all of the difference!