Getting a healthy, well-balanced meal on the table during busy nights while juggling work pressures, sports, dance classes and homework can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
Head of Vitality’s nutrition strategy (and mom of 3), Candice Smith, tells us how she helps her family maintain a healthy attitude towards eating.
We asked Candice a few questions about how she helps her family eat healthy food
What’s your goal for your family’s diet?
“My overall priority is to create and encourage a healthy relationship with food. That may sound obvious, but disordered eating later in life can often be traced back to our early experiences with food, either linked to deprivation or excess. I hope to teach my children to recognise how good whole food makes their bodies feel.”
How do you keep mealtimes interesting?
“We eat seasonally – a wide variety of fruit and vegetables tends to be less expensive and taste better in season. I also include my children in the cooking process. We’ve been to several kids’ classes at Vitality’s HealthyFood Studio and the enjoyment they get from making their own wholewheat pasta or home-made tomato sauce is wonderful to see.”
How can parents encourage a “fussy” eater to try new flavours?
“My kids must try everything once before telling me they don’t like it. After that, they’re welcome to decline. I also continue to put a food they’ve previously said ‘no’ to on their plates and insist they try one bite. I always tell people, like with breaking or forming any habit, you have to give food many tries before children will develop a taste for something new. This strategy has converted one into an avo lover and another into the biggest salmon fan.”
What is your favourite healthy meal to cook your family?
“With the weather getting colder, we’re loving stews loaded with vegetables. I rely on my pressure cooker in winter – it makes it possible for us to have a delicious tender stew without having to be at the stove for hours. This ostrich stew is a quick, healthy dinner that’s packed with vegetables and fibre. I like to replace lamb with leaner meat options such as ostrich or chicken, and use this HealthyFood Studio homemade stock recipe for a healthier alternative to high-sodium store-bought stock. Perfect for winter!”
What’s one thing parents can do right now to help their kids get healthy?
“Drinking just one sugary drink per day increases the likelihood of being overweight by 55% in children. Try to cut out your family’s intake of what is essentially liquid sugar. Opt for plain water and steer clear of sugar-laden fruit juices. You’re better off eating your fruit.”
Any tips for decreasing sugar intake in kids?
- Choose oatmeal over sugary cereals, and sweeten with fresh fruit instead of sugar.
- Only offer plain or sparkling water or plain milk as drinks.
- Choose plain yoghurt and flavour it yourself with fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds.
- Replace biscuits, cereal bars, and other sugary snacks with healthy options such as finger vegetables (carrot and cucumber sticks, cocktail tomatoes, or snap peas) with hummus or guacamole, unsalted raw nuts, dried fruit with no added sugar, homemade popcorn, fruit kebabs, or plain yoghurt with fresh sliced or pureed fruit.
- Pack a balanced lunchbox including fresh veggies and fruit, high-fibre carbs (whole grains), lean protein, fat free or low fat dairy, healthy fats, and fluid (water or milk).
How do you eat healthily on a budget?
- Eat seasonally and make use of frozen veggies.
- Use beans and lentils as an inexpensive source of protein that also help meals go further.
- Activate the Discovery HealthyFood benefit and get cash back on healthy food items.