March is Nutrition Month and this year’s theme really hit home for me.  The campaign slogan is Take a 100 meal journey: make small changes, one meal at a time.  We eat about 100 meals in a month, so the focus is to make a small lasting change and stick with it…one meal at a time.  My family and I recently took our own 100 meal journey to make some healthy eating changes at our house.  I am a dietitian and an active mom with four very active boys. Over the past year as my boys, husband and I got busy with our activities I noticed that we were falling out of some of our good eating habits. We started to rely on grabbing food on the go more often and we were rushing to pack lunches in the mornings.  I’m sure many families can relate to similar healthy eating roadblocks.  I knew my family and I could make some changes to eat better, even with our busy schedules.  Here are our real life strategies on how we made some small changes one meal at a time.

Challenge number one:  Picking up food on the go because of busy schedules. We usually have two to three activities going on in evenings.  Between the six of us we are often running in many different directions.  I found my family was starting to grab meals on the go more often.  Picking up pizza here and stopping for some subs there. It was starting to impact our financial budget as well as how well we were eating.

The small changes we made included:

  • Planning and prepping meals the night before. I will be honest, planning meals is sometimes a pain, but you will always thank yourself the next day when you are rushing home knowing that supper is taken care of.  The night before we pull out meat or get things ready to go in the crockpot for the morning.  We also chop up vegetables or make a salad, measure out rice or pasta, or put water in the pot on the stove.  When we get home from work the next day most of the prep work is done and we can get supper cooking in minutes.  We rely on leftovers at least twice a week to save time when we are busy in the evenings with activities.  For example, we will make a big batch of chili or stew or cook extra chicken breasts on days when we have a bit more time at supper.
  • We come home to eat as a family even if we only have half an hour before we need to leave again. We get a chance to touch base and eat together.  Everyone gets a chance to fuel their bodies with good food before their next activity. Because supper is planned there is always food ready.
  • We have a quick meal back up for when we didn’t plan supper. I like to call this our plan for when we didn’t have a plan. We rely on a couple quick healthy meals we can make when forget to do all of the above (which happens at least once a week).  Our favorites are scrambled eggs and toast or egg sandwiches and milk, or baked flat bread with tomato sauce and cheese (our version of homemade pizza) and raw veggies and dip.  It’s not fancy but both meals take less than 10 minutes to make.

Challenge number two: rushing to pack lunches in the morning.  I love bringing a lunch with me to work, I just don’t like making them.  There are six of us who need to pack a lunch and get out the door.  I pack lunches for myself and our two little boys and my husband and two older sons pack their own lunches (that was another strategy I implemented a long time ago so I wasn’t preparing all the lunches).  It is always a traffic jam in the kitchen in the morning.

The small changes we made included:

  • Staggering our times in the kitchen in the morning so we are not all trying to make lunch at the same time. I get in the kitchen first and make my lunch as well as the little boys lunches, then I go get ready.  My husband is next and as he is making his, the boys are eating breakfast.  Once they are done eating my middle son make his lunch.  My oldest son gets up last, so as I am leaving out the door he makes his.  It isn’t rocket science but it took us a while to figure out the timing so we weren’t rushing and bumping elbows trying to get out the door.
  • Having lunch supplies ready. I try and keep the fridge stocked with fruit, vegetables, hummus or tzatziki dip, individual yogurt cups, cheese, lean deli meat, hard boiled eggs or tuna.  We also have whole grain crackers, granola bars, bread, wraps, individual unsweetened juice and applesauce cups.  If there are some leftovers from supper (that we aren’t relying on for supper the next day) we will portion them into lunch containers.  The night before I will wash and cut up raw vegetables and fruit into containers.  Each of us always try and pack two pieces of fruit and some raw veggies or a salad in our lunches.  Having these supplies available helps everyone put together a healthy lunch quickly in the morning.

I hope sharing our healthy eating challenges and real life strategies will inspire others to make small, simple, doable changes to sustain health eating habits.  If you are looking for more real life strategies and tips visit www.nutritionmonth2016.ca

 

Written by Kimberlee Brooks, MSc, RD, FAME member.