My Favorite Hacks For Eating Healthy

Every time I go to any of my doctors, they make various comments insinuating the same general thing: I, and my child, are healthy. 

The first time a doctor said this to me I froze. Me? Healthy? I just looked at him a little puzzled. He confirmed his comment again. WHAT?!

Yes! We are healthy!

This seriously blew my mind. I’ve always been a health freak. I picked up every book I could find about fitness or nutrition and always loved science, specifically biology. Knowing how the body works and what we needed to do to be healthy always fascinated me.

Because of all this knowledge I have about nutrition, it has been a little overwhelming for me becoming a mother, and even just as an adult responsible for my own health. I know what it takes to be healthy and I’ve really slacked and given up in some areas.

As a perfectionist, I assumed that my family was not healthy because I was unable to keep all of our meals perfectly balanced and wasn’t exercising for an hour every day. I thought that because my son had a cup of juice and watched tv every day that I was failing him.

But after a chat with my doctor I realized something…. health isn’t about perfection or strict rules. Being healthy is all about balance. Although I had felt like a failure because my family wasn’t doing everything strictly “healthy”, knowing all the things I did had led me to creating a very balanced lifestyle for my family.

The truth is, we make it so much harder on ourselves that it needs to be. We see these perfect lifestyles portrayed on social media… but those lifestyles are not realistic or attainable for most of us.

These are some of the things I’ve incorporated into my family’s lifestyle to help create a healthy, balanced lifestyle!

Prepare ahead of time.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m really hungry or rushed, healthy is the last thing I want to do. I want to grab that donut or make the mac n’ cheese for dinner. While meal planning is a GREAT first step, I sometimes have a really hard time even following through with those plans. There are just days when we are exhausted, unmotivated or just want to eat crap. Meal prep is a great second step. While I’m not one to prep every single meal ahead of time, there are a few small things I do to help myself out:

  1. Freezer meals. I love having a few freezer meals 100% prepared in the freezer! Pinterest is a great resource. If you have a large family, try some frozen casseroles in disposable baking dishes. Cover the dish with foil and use a sharpie to write the temp and cook time on top. One of my favorite freezer meals is my Breakfast Egg Sausage Burritos! Every month I make the filling in bulk and freeze them in little baggies. I generally don’t have the motivation to dirty the kitchen and make a decent breakfast – I would rather grab a bagel or cereal. But when the filling is just sitting in the freezer waiting to be defrosted, what excuse do I have?
  2. Prepare healthy options each week to prevent excuses. Each week I like to prep a few things that can be sitting in the fridge for when cravings get the best of me. I’ll dice and slice veggies for salad toppings and snacks, make a veggie dip and fruit dip ready to go, and some granola bars for to-go breakfasts. 
  3. Mix up your meal plans. I never expect myself to make a huge meal every evening. If you don’t have lots of motivation, hate cooking or have a very busy lifestyle, that probably isn’t a practical expectation for you either. Not meeting your own expectations can be a BIG cause of depression and frustration for anyone. I usually plan 2-3 real balanced meals every week. I make sure I have all the ingredients when I write my grocery list. Then I choose 2-3 easy meals and then plan on one evening of leftovers. With this kind of meal planning, it leaves room for plans to change. If I’m not feeling good one day, I can mix things up. Some nights we just have salad, bean dip or popcorn and apples. This keeps me from getting exhausted and irritated with cooking and meal planning.

Aim for one veggie a day.

I will admit, this sounds like a terrible goal. We all know we are supposed to be eating 3-5 vegetables every single day. But, come on…. who does that?! When I try to do this, I get annoyed and overwhelmed and feel like a total failure. After some experimenting, I have found that one vegetable a day is actually attainable for my family. It also depends what your definition of veggie is…. I get a little confused sometimes. Is an onion a vegetable? What about tomatoes? Surely potatoes don’t count… 🙂

I count a vegetable as something green/orange/red/yellow that doesn’t taste really really good. I know that sounds stupid, but these qualifications seem to work for me. Potatoes are white carbs that I could eat for days. Onions and garlic I put in everything, so I don’t count this in my veggies. Tomatoes count on a bad day, but I do try to put an extra veggie in with my tomato dishes. Generally I go for things that are either green or crunchy, even better if they’re both!

I actually buy little baby food pouches for my toddler for the days when I know he won’t eat dinner. For instance, if we are having salads for dinner I will let the baby have a hot dog and veggie straws with a veggie food pouch. This way I know he got his one veggie for the day, even if he just had toddler food the rest of the day.

Make water fun!

I’m sure you know that drinking water is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, if your family is in a serious rut with eating I would highly suggest aiming for more water before worrying about your eating habits.

Water is what keeps us alive! There is nothing more important for our health than drinking lots of water. Staying hydrated has endless benefits: lower blood pressure, clear skin, energy, less toxins, better brain function, lowered risk of UTI’s, better digestion, weight loss, more oxygen delivered to your body, regulates body temperature, helps your body get nutrients from your food, and so much more.

If your family has a serious sugary drink addiction, start small. Get rid of one glass of soda every day and replace it with water. If necessary, get some of those sugar free flavoring packets for your waters. Try fresh fruit squeezed into your glass. Get everyone a fun water bottle to carry around with them all day. Do what you can to motivate your family to drink more water – it’s so very worth it!

But don’t worry, sugary drinks don’t have to be banned from your lifestyle. We aim to only drink soda at special events and my toddler gets one cup of juice each day (the rest is all water and he doesn’t drink soda – I bring his juice to restaurants and parties). Just because it’s not healthy doesn’t mean you can’t indulge on occasion. Just take care of all those teeth!

Ignore fads

There is nothing that triggers me more than seeing the nutrition fads change. Every type of food has been victimized, except for veggies! If you just google it, you can find some kind diet that says any food is the problem. Or maybe it’s the time of day you eat it. They all have some sort of magical solution to pain and weight issues.

But the truth is, everyone is different. It has to do with your ethnic background, what you grew up eating, personal health issues, and just YOU! If something makes you feel gross…. don’t eat it! If you notice lots of weight gain when you’re eating a certain way… change it! If your family struggles with constipation or aching bellies, experiment with eating habits until things change.

Don’t worry about what the fad diets are saying. They are changing constantly, and generally those diets are not sustainable in any way. Eat a balanced diet. If something is making you or your family sick, change it up. Do what makes your family feel good and ignore what everyone else has to say.

Eat what you enjoy

My last tip is to just enjoy your life! Life is short… and while it is worth the effort to extend that life by being as healthy as possible, we also don’t know what tomorrow brings.

This is why I am all about balance. My goal is to be just healthy enough that I can have energy to do what I enjoy and stay alive a long time to take care of my babies! But I also want to have fun and not refrain from the joys of life – one of which is delicious and fattening food!

God has given us so many gifts. One of those gifts is food. I don’t want to eliminate all the enjoyable foods out of my life just to be healthy – to me that seems like it would create it’s own sadness.

Be balanced. Healthy doesn’t have to mean organic and vegan. Healthy doesn’t have to mean no sugar. Healthy doesn’t have to mean running marathons and eating broccoli for every meal.

Healthy = Happy 

I am happy when I have energy to run and play with my kids.

I am happy when I can eat a giant piece of chocolate cake for my baby’s birthday.

I am happy when my skin, urine and brain are all clear because of proper hydration! 😉

I am happy when my digestion works properly & my gut feels good.

I am happy when I can sit around the table with my loved ones and enjoy a meal without avoiding things they have made because they don’t “fit” my diet.

I am happy when I feel good about how I look AND feel.

Do what makes you happy. Here’s to a healthy lifestyle!

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