I received a question from a reader this week asking for tips on how she could transition her family to clean eating.
First of all, you have to go into this with the expectation that you WILL get off track. You will eat foods that aren’t clean, but that’s okay. It even makes the transition much easier. Trying to be perfect all the time would be overwhelming and set you up for failure. My personal goal is to stick to clean eating 80% of the time. The other 20% I still eat reasonably healthy with an occasional indulgence. However, my family probably only eats clean 50% of the time. If I make it for them, they eat it. But if it’s up to them, they still like to grab easy, unhealthy, junk food. I just make sure that I buy healthy snacks, and I encourage them to grab some fruit or veggies when they are hungry.
Keep in mind that consistency is the key to change. What you do the majority of the time really does make a difference and adds up over time. I’ve lost 30 pounds in the last 3 months eating clean, and that included a stall in my progress when I was traveling over the holidays.
Tips for the transition:
- Start slow if you need to. Rather than trying to make a big change all at once or eliminating all their favorite foods, start by adding in the healthy stuff. Before you know it, some of the unhealthy choices are being crowded out.
- Make changes to the meals you already enjoy. Clean eating doesn’t mean you can never eat things your kids love like pizza and spaghetti. Just make healthy swaps. Whole grain pita for the crust, low sugar pizza sauce (or make your own) and loads of veggies. My kids love spaghetti, so I use whole wheat or brown rice noodles and sauce without added sugar. Is it completely clean? No, but remember the 80/20 rule.
- Encourage your kids to add a fruit or vegetable to every meal. I find if I let them pick something out at the grocery store, they are excited about eating it.
- Meal prep on the weekend for the upcoming week. I always cook a large batch of chicken breasts for the upcoming week in the crockpot, then shred and freeze it. I also pre-cook lean hamburger and ground turkey. We love mexican food, so I often cook salsa chicken or baked chicken fajitas so we have meat ready to add to tacos, burritos, salads, etc. I make oatmeal and a large baked omelet so there are healthy breakfast options available to reheat.
- Add extra veggies to everything. Casseroles are easy to sneak them in, but you can also add them to most sauces, smoothies, meatloaf, etc.
- To save money, buy things in bulk. Also, since meat is expensive, I often replace half the meat in a recipe with quinoa. It’s still high protein and makes your grocery budget stretch further.
- Don’t fall into the trap of making one meal for your family and a separate clean meal for you. I often add something to the meal that I know my family will like even if it’s something I may not eat. For example, in this week’s meal plan (below), I’m making Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie. It’s served over biscuits, but I’ll just eat the filling and a salad. My family will eat it with the biscuits.
- Educate yourself and your family as you make these changes so you know WHY you’re doing it. Help them see it’s not just “another new diet,” but a lifelong plan to keep them strong and healthy.
- Most important of all. Don’t stress. You’ll get the hang of it, and soon you’ll be surprised how much your family loves it.
This Week’s Meal Plan
Download meal plan in larger format.
Tried & True Recipes
New Recipes I’m Trying This Week
The new recipes I’m trying this week come from SkinnyMom.com’s new Supper Club which just started in January. Check it out. It’s awesome, and it’s FREE! Not all of the recipes she includes are clean, but she does include a lot of healthier substitutions.
Since I aim to follow clean eating 80% of the time, I don’t feel bad throwing in a few recipes that aren’t completely clean. If I can make even further substitutions to keep it clean, I always do that. One of my favorite is making homemade Cream of Chicken soup instead of using it from a can.
I’d love to hear some feedback on your path to clean eating. Do you eat clean? Does your family? Have any tips to share about your transition? If so, please leave a comment below.
photo courtesy of stockimages | freedigitalphotos.com