Helping the entire family focus on eating healthy can be one of the toughest daily challenges you may face as a parent. Throughout my time as a family nurse practitioner I have seen many families succeed at reaching their specific health goals. However, I have seen more families fail at making a committed health change. I have tried various methods of health counseling and have listed the top five challenges in which my patients showed the most success.
1. Color Calendar
The color challenge is great for all families and all ages. Every week place multiple papers with one of the five colors listed (red, orange, yellow, purple, green) in a jar and have someone pick out the color for each day. The color that is chosen for the day indicates the color of the fruit or vegetable you MUST eat that day!
Red: Beets, Cherries, Cranberries, Grapefruit, Pomegranates, Radishes, Raspberries, Apples, Red pepper, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon
Green: Arugula, Asparagus, Avocados, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Celery, Cucumbers, Green Apples, Green beans, Pears, Green peppers, Honeydew, Kiwi, Lettuce, Limes, Peas, Spinach, Zucchini
Purple: Berries, Plums, Eggplant, Grapes, Plums, Cabbage, Figs, Grapes, Purple Potatoes
Yellow: Bananas, Brown Pears, Cauliflower, Dates, Garlic, Ginger, Mushrooms, Onions, Potatoes, Corn, Apples (yellow), Pears, Peppers, pineapple
Orange: Apricots, Squash, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mango, Nectarine, Orange, Peaches, Pumpkin, Sweet potatoes
2. Meatless Monday
I know everyone has heard of the meatless Monday trend. Every Monday make a conscience choice to avoid meat throughout the day. There are so many vegetarian options online that it should not be much of a challenge to find alternative meals! Opening your child’s mind to vegetarian dishes as an alternative food choice can be helpful in teaching them how to to make their own independent food selections in the future.
3. Swap THIS for THAT
This challenge is fun for the whole family. Such a simple change can make a huge and lasting impact! For an entire week pick one less healthy food item or one low energy activity that can be swapped for a more healthy item or a more vigorous activity.
Ex: Instead of drinking Gatorade, juice and soda, we will only drink water for the week.
Ex: Instead of watching TV after dinner as a family, we will go for a walk.
4. Water Challenge
Have your child decorate a water bottle with a clearly marked fill line at the top. Every time they finish the bottle of water they score a point and have them refill the bottle. This is a good way to encourage the whole family to stay hydrated! The winner can pick the next health food challenge!
5. Eat in All Week
Every few weeks, make a conscience effort to “eat in” all week long. No fast food, no restaurants and no take out. Have the whole family involved in planning the meals for the week!