We all wish we were eating healthier. Americans are huge consumers of unhealthy junk food. On average, we’re consuming packaged food 31% more often than fresh food. This can make the adoption of healthier habits a steep hill to climb.
Why not start simple, then? It can be overwhelming to contemplate overhauling your entire diet and day-to-day life. Instead of taking on such a massive task, start smaller.
If you could change just your snacking habits, for example, it could have a huge impact on your overall diet. Eating healthy snacks can be a great way to kick start a new diet.
Switching to healthy snacks isn’t one person’s sole responsibility though. Healthy snacking can become a way of life for the entire family. Here are 7 ways you and your family can ditch the junk food in favor of healthy snacks.
1. Change the Way You Think About Your Kitchen
Improving your diet is about more than just the food itself. Eating more healthy snacks requires more than just a different grocery list.
The home itself can be a factor in how healthy you and your family are thinking. You might want to think about the habits that your home itself reinforces, especially your kitchen. Do you have snack and candy bowls out on the counter? Are healthy snacks squirreled away, difficult to find or access? Change your kitchen so that healthy snacks are the priority.
You don’t need to do a full kitchen remodel to have a kitchen that promotes healthy snacks. You can use the kitchen equipment you already own to facilitate your family’s healthy snack revolution. For example, you might be able to reorganize your shelves so that healthy snacks are the ones that are front and center, easiest to reach. You could also consider replacing the candy bowl with a bowl for fruit. Then, next time you go to grab a snack, it may be an apple rather than a candy.
While you’re restructuring, take a lot at what you have lying around. You might find nice bowls for displaying fruit or even some performance drinkware that can make a protein shake or trip to the gym more accessibly and appealing.
2. Make Your Home a Healthy Home
Redesigning your home around healthy snacks doesn’t stop at your kitchen. Look beyond the dishes and drinkware if you want to create an overall healthier lifestyle for you and your family.
Around the home, you can limit unhealthy snacking by keeping eating to the kitchen. It’s tempting to eat on the couch or in bedrooms, but this is an easy way to get lured in by unhealthy snacks you’re trying to avoid. If the kitchen is the one part of the house meant for eating, you can condition new habits, including eating healthy snacks.
You might also promote health around your home to change your family’s habits. Perhaps you can get some light exercise equipment. If you have a basement or spare room, this is a great location for a pull up bar, some weights, a yoga mat and other home exercise equipment.
Finally, if you have yard space, this can be a place that also promotes your family’s health. Outdoor toys like sports equipment and lawn games can change your family’s habits in a way that is fun instead of arduous.
3. Don’t Slack During Summer Break
So you’re changing your home, buying healthier snacks and improving your family’s habits. But then summer break arrives and it all goes out the window.
Don’t let summer interrupt your routine and destroy your good habits.
There are a lot of ways to keep your family on track with eating healthy snacks even when summer arrives with all its temptations. If you have children, you could enroll them in a summer camp, such as a sports, cultural or art summer camp. Summer camps are great ways to have fun and maintain routines during the summer break from school.
Summer also brings barbecues, camping and other gatherings. These can be menaces when it comes to healthy snacking habits. It’s hard to eat healthy snacks when you are at a neighbor’s summer barbecue and there are so many unhealthy temptations around.
Here are some simply tips to help get you through summer gatherings if you’re trying to eat healthy snacks and ditch the junk food:
- Bring your own snacks: Everyone is supposed to bring a dish to share, so make sure yours is a healthy snack you can share.
- Search for healthy sides: You might be surprised by some of the sides. Things like coleslaw, hummus and yogurt are all healthy snacks that are great for summer.
- Eat your vegetables first: Fill up on vegetables first so that you are less tempted by your tummy when it comes time to dive into the snacks.
- Suggest fish: Instead of fatty meats that might not be super healthy, see if you can suggest fish as a dish for the barbecue.
- Watch out for booze: If you’re going to drink, do it in moderation.
- Don’t skip desert: This might not sound intuitive, but you don’t need to skip the desert. Fruit is a healthy snack that can still count as desert. Things like grilled fruit and yogurts are delicious, fit right in at a barbecue and can help keep you on track.
You can still have fun this summer while sticking to your healthy snacks. Get creative about how to integrate your new healthy snacking into your summer plans. Even just bringing some peanuts or cashews with you for snacking can help stop cravings when you’re surrounded by temptations.
4. Have Healthy Habits When You’re Out and About
Summer is not the only time of year when you will face temptations to break your healthy habits. Even in your everyday life, junk food and unhealthy snacks will be all around you all the time. How can you stick to your resolution when there’s candy in the line at the grocery store and ice cream shops and so many other temptations?
A store’s signage display might try to lure you in with promises of handmade ice cream or delectable sweets, making the whole world a distraction from your healthy habits. But there is hope. There are ways to resist temptation when it strikes.
First of all, try to eat your healthy snacks before you leave the house. Make sure you aren’t hungry when you’re running errands or out and about, as that is when the temptation is the greatest. You might also consider bringing your healthy snacks with you. Things like fruit, nuts and trail mix are easy to carry with you when you leave home.
5. Make Habits a Way of Life Year Round
As we’ve already noted, your change to a healthier lifestyle needs to apply year-round and not just once in a while. If it is just a temporary change, it won’t have the same impact on your life that a total lifestyle change will.
Year-round habits mean making healthy snacks ordinary and routine. Those healthy snacks should start to be regular fixtures on your grocery shopping list. Soon, you will stop thinking of this as a change and more like an ordinary occurrence. This helps a healthier lifestyle become a fixture instead of a challenge.
If you want to really ramp up your lifestyle shift, you can go beyond just addressing your snacking. Look into physical activities that you can also integrate into your routine. This could be something more low key, such as yoga, or something more high-intensity, such as a sport like soccer or running.
If you’re the type who hates going to the gym alone, look into group workouts. There are many types of classes and activities that are offered as group workouts so you can benefit from the motivation of a group.
6. Factor Your Children into the Routine
A healthier lifestyle is an adventure for the whole family. Don’t forget to factor in your children and their eating habits when you are thinking about changing to healthy snacks.
If your children are very young, you may need to consider childcare, especially if you are trying to add things like workouts and exercise classes to your life. You may need to give different instructions to a care giver as well. If they are used to giving your children cookies and ice cream for snacks, you may need to inform them about your decision to switch to healthy snacks.
Conversely, if your children are a little older, you can get them involved in the process. Brainstorm ideas for healthy snacks with your children. Try to learn what they are excited about.
You may even find some types of healthy snacks and recipes that you can make together with your children. This offers an opportunity for some family bonding time while you’re adjusting your diet.
7. Get Specific About Your Snacks
OK, we’ve talked a lot about your home, routine and family, but how about the snacks themselves? If you want to be eating healthy snacks, you need to get specific about what counts as healthy and what doesn’t. Here are some specific suggests for healthy snacks that can help keep you on track with your new diet.
Nuts. Nuts are a great healthy snack for a lot of reasons. For one thing, they’re portable, meaning you can bring them with you anywhere. This is a great way to avoid temptations.
Nuts are also great because they’re packed with nutrition and very filling. Even a handful can give you a blast of healthy fats and nutrients and satisfy your cravings.
Great types of nuts and seeds to keep around for snacking include: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and cashews.
Whole grains. Much like nuts, whole grains are great because they’re both filling and nutritious. And they come in many forms. In fact, you might not feel like you are eating healthy snacks when you’re eating whole grains, as even some types of pretzels and chips are whole grain.
Fruits and vegetables. This may sound like an obvious one, but fruits and vegetables are great to keep around as snacks. They’re healthy, delicious and easy to eat in many forms. You might try chopping up vegetables to make them easy to carry around as portable healthy snacks.
Breakfast foods. Breakfast isn’t just good for breakfast time. Breakfast can also offer solutions for healthy snacks throughout the day.
If you get a craving for a snack in the middle of the day, why not have some whole grain toast with peanut butter? Or granola? These and many other breakfast staples actually make for great healthy snacks all day long.
Mix and match. None of the suggestions above should be considered in isolation. Mix and match as you see fit for more variety in your healthy snacks. For example, you can put peanut butter on fruit to mix healthy fats with carbs. You could also put fruit in granola to make your own trail mix.
Learning New Habits for Healthy Snacking
All of these suggestions are part of a larger picture. It starts with healthy snacks, but may soon turn into an overall healthier lifestyle for you and your family.
One key as you are embarking on this journey toward healthy snacks and healthy living is to be more mindful about all of your eating habits. Mindfulness means more than just planning in advance. Mindfulness also happens during the act of eating itself.
Mindful eating is the act of putting yourself firmly in the present moment. That could mean taking a few seconds or even minutes to merely look at your snack. Think about it. Consider what you are about to do, what it will taste like and how you will feel what you eat healthy snacks.
You should also avoid outside distractions while eating mindfully. This means avoiding having the TV on while you’re eating. Don’t eat while working or browsing the internet, either. Try to make eating the only activity you are doing in that moment.
All of this ties into your push to integrate healthy snacks into your lifestyle. You don’t need to try to tackle all these pieces at once. Start with what sounds the most interesting or possible, then slowly add in more until you’ve reached a place where you’re eating healthier with ease.