Reader Q&A: How Do I Get My Family To Eat Healthy?

How do I get my family to eat healthy?

Reader Melissa A. sent me an email asking a question that I think most mothers and wives face: How do I get my family to eat healthy?  See what she had to say.

I am on a path to start eating clean but I am having trouble getting my husband and children on board. 

My children are 2 and 3 and would not eat/throw a tantrum for hours if they don’t get their standard terrible toddler food (hot dogs, crackers, tons of sugar loaded processed foods).   I’ve actually tried for over a year to correct their menu just to throw it away in the trash every time.  Since I’m the grocery shopper in the house I have tried to reduce their intake where I can, improving the amounts they receive. 

Our biggest challenge is that my husband feeds them 5 out of 7 dinners as I work an hour away.  He’s not much of a cook/leftovers guy so they almost always eat Take and bake pizza or corn dog nuggets on a daily basis. 

Any words of wisdom?

Thanks so much,
Melissa A.

I know exactly how you feel.  While Ava has always had fairly good eating habits, Tony has not.  My husband had what I considered to be the “typical American diet”.  He is a lover of  meat, fried things, and anything containing the ingredient “partially hydrogenated oil”.

When I started this clean eating journey, he thought I was totally nuts.  He didn’t understand why I didn’t want to eat meat, or that I didn’t want our daughter eating Doritos.  I continued to do what I knew was right.

Tony’s eating habits are changing.

If you ask him, he may still tell you that my eating habits are a little strange, but I know he hears what I’m saying.  I realized that I had gotten through to him when I heard through the grapevine that he got on to someone who was trying to give our daughter excessive amounts of candy.  He explained to the person that we (yes, he said WE!) choose not to give junk like that to Ava and even though I wasn’t there, we stand together (together!!!) on our decision.  He was listening all along!  He made me proud!

So what did I do to get through to him?

In the beginning, I led by example.  I knew he would never just jump on board.  Like most men (sorry guys), I needed to let him decide that it was his idea.  Even though he thought it was all crazy, I ate healthy.  I also explained to him why I was eating the way I was.  Once the weight started falling off, I think he started to notice that it wasn’t a bunch of nonsensical hippie talk.   What I was doing made perfect sense, and he noticed!

I wasn’t above trickery.

I admit it, I tricked my family more than a few times.  (And I still do!)  I got crafty with the whole wheat and whole grains.  I learned how to add veggies into meals so that they wouldn’t  notice.

Don’t fight against them.

Although Ava is a fairly good eater, I know a little girl who sounds just like Melissa’s kids.  She only eats chicken nuggets (frozen or from McDonald’s), cookies, and a few other unhealthy items.  Her parents continued to feed her these things for fear of her being hungry.  Start by offering your children healthy options along with their favorites.  Slowly (over a few weeks) remove the unhealthy options from their diet.  They will probably protest, but if they are truly hungry, they will eat the healthy options.  If they won’t eat the healthy foods, set them aside for later when they are hungry again.  When they are hungry, they will eat.

Get your children involved!

Children who help grow or prepare their meals are more likely to try new things.  Start a small garden and let them grow new veggies to try.  Invite them into the kitchen.  Not only will your child be more likely to try new foods, but you will be bonding with them and building their self-esteem.

Prep your meals.

If you are not the one who cooks most of the meals, prep easy and healthy meals ahead of time.  Here I talked about prep being one of the three “P’s”.  If you can’t be home to cook a healthy meal, try doing once-a-month cooking.  Make and freeze healthy, clean meals that your spouse or kids can heat up.  If it’s just as easy as a frozen pizza, they just might cook it.

Getting your family to eat clean (or just somewhat healthy for that matter) is not going to happen over night.  Just remember to stay positive and lead by example.

Do you have any advice for Melissa or anyone else dealing with a picky family?



Food Waste Friday Is Back

FoodWasteFriday After years of wasting hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of food, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

Since I’m finally in control of the groceries once again, Food Waste Friday is back!  When we moved into our new place, I decided a few things right off the bat.  First, I would do everything in my power to have zero food waste.  Second was to start a compost bin.

We have been in our new place for two weeks now.  We love it, even though it’s more space than we need or want.  It’s even bigger now that Rylan (our nephew) went back home.

Since Ava and I are home all the time, we are on leftover patrol.  I’ve taken it upon myself to eat any leftovers so they do not go bad.  So far, so good!

I am pleased to report that they only thing that went into the compost pile were a few pieces of moldy sweet peppers.  My mother-in-law sent them (not moldy) with us from her house when we moved.  By the time I got around to using them, a few of them were starting to grow mold.  No big deal.

Frozen Sweet Peppers in a Jar

I cut the mold off and decided to cut and freeze the rest of them to be on the safe side.  I love freezing peppers.  I love having them on hand.  I just pull the jar out of the freezer and pick a few out.  Easy peasy.  We also saved some very brown organic bananas by making some of my Nana’s delicious banana bread.  It didn’t last very long.

Coffee Jug

I’ve got my recycled jug in the fridge for any leftover coffee. (I got all fancy and wrote it on with a sharpie.) Just add milk and sugar and you have iced coffee.  No waste!  Speaking of coffee, I just bought this coffee pot…. for $3.73!

Thrift Store Coffee Pot

I’ve been looking for one at Goodwill but they’re either not the right size/style/color, over priced, or just flat-out nasty.  I spotted this one a few days ago.  It’s the exact one we had in Alaska (only paid $5 on Craigslist for that one) and was clean and an additional 30% off.  My patience paid off!

Storage Container Compost Bin

I did manage to start my compost bin.  It’s actually looking pretty great, if I must say so myself.  Check out all the kitchen scraps I need to add!

Kitchen Scraps for Compost

I keep a bin in the door of the fridge.  My bin is an aluminum loaf pan with a plastic produce bag.  Eventually I’ll be able to grow new food from these scraps, and that makes me very happy!

Did you waste any food this week?


Food Waste Friday: Death of Cilantro


After years of wasting hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of food, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

This week was not that great.  I had to throw away almost an entire bunch of cilantro.  It was (mostly) my fault.  Tony put the groceries away and just set the bag of organic cilantro in the fridge on its side.  I didn’t find it for a few days.  By then, it was nasty and slimy on the side that was laying flat.

I normally store my cilantro upright in a glass of water with the plastic bag over the top.  Stored like this, it will last about two weeks.  I made one batch of my favorite avocado buttermilk dressing and attempted to salvage the rest.  Even after cleaning it and storing it correctly, it was wilted and sad-looking the next day.  Oh well, I tried.

I was able to salvage a head of celery that was beginning to go limp and some red cabbage that was left over from a large batch of pot stickers I made.  I put both the celery and the cabbage along with an onion and carrots into a batch of lentil soup.  This was the first time I put cabbage in it.  It was delicious!  I will be adding it from here on out.

I also saved a small container of roasted beets and sweet potatoes that were left over from tacos.  I puréed them and made pasta.  I had the homemade pasta for dinner last night with a homemade alfredo sauce that Tony made.  So good!

How did your week go?

Give It a Try!

Photo by Comprock

Photo by Comprock

Changing my eating habits has been positive for me in more than one way. Not only have I dropped two pant sizes without trying, but I have tried so many new foods that I’m finding to be amazing!

Growing up, my mom fed me fruits and vegetables.  Our veggies usually consisted of canned corn, canned green beans, canned carrots, and potatoes.  We did eat more fresh fruit, typically apples, bananas, and sometimes peaches.  We didn’t eat much variety, and what we did eat, usually came from a can.

In just the past two months, I have eaten more fruits and vegetables than I have eaten in probably the past 10 years.  I have also tried so many new things, or foods that I had never had fresh.  This is my list of things you should try if you have never had them or just try to eat more of!

  1. Beets – I did eat beets as a child.  My mother took us to Morrison’s (now Piccadilly) on a weekly basis after swimming lessons as a child.  The man there said I was the only child that ever asked for beets.  This was my only experience with beets… out of a can.  We recently had lunch from one of the food trucks here in Anchorage.  Their only vegetarian option was beet sliders.  I knew I liked beets as a child, but it had been so long.  I gave them a shot.  Fresh beets are So. Much. Better!  Since trying the sliders, I have made roasted beet tacos and roasted beets with quinoa.  Give beets a shot!
  2. Butternut Squash – I had never had butternut squash until about a month ago.  We were at Alaska Bagel and they had butternut squash soup.  I had a taste of Tony’s and it was delicious.  Since then I have been in love with butternut squash.  I made soup, which was good, then I used the leftover soup to make butternut squash mac n’ cheese.  Be creative! (I also tried spaghetti squash the other night at a restaurant.  Give that a try too!)
  3. Pears – The only pears I had ever eaten as a child were the canned pears they served in the cafeteria at lunch.  I had no concept of what a fresh pear would taste like.  I am in love with fresh organic pears.  They are now a regular on my grocery list.  They are the perfect snack.
  4. Quinoa – I had never even heard of quinoa until my cousin Ellen came back from wilderness camp.  It was one of the few things they ate and she said she would never eat it again.  Since then, I have gathered a ton of recipes for quinoa.  It is so good for you and is a great substitute for rice.  Give it a try if you haven’t already.
  5. Lentils – Lentils are completely new to me.  They are a legumes and they are super tasty.  I made lentil soup for dinner last night.  Ava likes to eat them raw, only soaked (I tried one like this, it is gross).  They have a slightly peppery flavor.  Yummy!

I am still learning on this new food adventure.  I am trying new things every day.  What are some new foods you have tried recently?

Food Waste Friday 1/11


After years of wasting what could have fed a small Ethiopian village, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

I’m fairly bummed about this week.  I made an entire crock pot full of vegetable soup and it all ended up in the trash.  It was disgusting!  It was a recipe I found on Pinterest.  I figured I would give it a try.  It had one major problem.  The recipe said to add the uncooked pasta in the beginning and let it cook with the soup all day.  I should have known better.  By the time I got home to check the soup, the pasta had cooked down to mush and ruined the entire soup.  Needless to say, it went straight into the garbage.

I also let a little bit of leftover potato and broccoli soup go bad.  I don’t know how I forgot about it.  It was actually really good and I would have eaten it.  I guess we just got busy.  Hopefully next week will be better.

How was your week?

See how last week went… Food Waste Friday 12/28

Changing The Way We Eat

Since moving to Alaska, I have drastically changed the way I am eating.  I’m not on a diet.  I haven’t had any meat in 3 weeks now and it hasn’t been hard at all.  I really wasn’t eating much meat to begin with, only bacon at breakfast, a turkey sandwich here or there, and sometimes if we ate out I would order a hamburger.

Let me start by saying that this move has been great for my health.  I have lost 8 pounds so far in the 3 months we have been in Alaska.  I’m officially back to the weight I was at when I met Tony in 2010.  The best part, I have not been on a diet.  I still have ice cream if I want it and I eat whenever I’m hungry.  I give credit to the fact that:

  1. I’m more active.  It’s hard not to burn calories when your out playing in the snow, walking to the store, and playing with your kid.
  2. I’m less stressed. I no longer wake up everyday to work at a job I hate.  I get to do what I love, stay home with Ava and work on my creative projects (crocheting, sewing, and I think I will start painting again too!)
  3. I’m eating better.  I have made a conscious decision to do this and it wasn’t hard.

So how exactly am I eating better?

I have decided to use the information that I have to make better nutritional decisions for my family.  What does that mean?  It means that I know processed foods are bad for us and fresh, homemade foods are the best.  It’s kind of a no brainer.  Essentially, I’ve stopped buying processed, pre packaged foods.  I try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  That’s where you find produce, meat, dairy, and whole grains, generally speaking.  My main goal is to only buy “real” food.  Real food, to me anyway, has minimal ingredients, all of which I can pronounce.  I also try to make as much of our food from scratch and buy everything organic whenever possible.  By doing this, I can control how much sugar, salt, and preservatives are in our food.  I’m sure all of this sounds overly complicated, but really, it’s not.  It’s so much easier than being on a diet.  I still eat whatever I want.  My body no longer craves sugar and junk.  I have actually been craving vegetables, as crazy as that sounds.

A few Sundays ago was the first time I ate out as a Pescetarian (don’t worry, I’m going to get to that).  We ate at Alaska Bagel, which is super good! I ordered the Mt. McKinley, which consists of a toasted bagel (I ordered everything), cream cheese, avocado, tomato, red onion, and sprouts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how good it was.  When you eat real food, you can actually taste what you’re eating.  It opened a new door for me.  Vegetables CAN be delicious! Raw vegetables at that!

So back to me being a pescetarian.  What exactly is a pescetarian anyway?  A pescetarian is essentially a vegetarian who also eats fish, shellfish, and eggs.  Again, using the information I have, I had to make a decision.  I know what happens to animals on big corporate farms.  All of the meat at the grocery store is pumped full of hormones to make them grow faster, so much so that a chicken’s breasts are so heavy that its legs can no longer support its body.  They are also packed so tightly into coops that some of them die.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my food living next to a dead chicken.  And don’t be fooled by the packaging that says “free range”.  Did you know that this only means they are given 3 feet of floor space?  And they still may never see the light of day.  To me “free range” means having room to roam outside, bugs to eat, and lots of fresh air.  Trust me, you can taste the difference.

I’m not a pescetarian because I think eating meat is evil.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating meat, IN MODERATION.  That being said, sitting down to eat a steak at every meal is surly not healthy.  If I do have a craving for meat, it will only come from local farms where I can see how the animals are raised and slaughtered.  I would also eat wild game (moose, deer, basically anything hunted here in Alaska) because it’s raised how nature intended it to be raised.  That being said, if you live in or near Marion County, Florida, there is an awesome farm that I will definitely buy meat from.  Check out Pasture Prime, if you haven’t already. They ship too!

How does Tony feel about this?  He thinks I’m crazy.  He’ll come around. =)

How do you feel about eating meat?

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve. It’s been relatively quiet for us this year. Tony was called into work, so Ava and I had the day to ourselves.

Ava and I took a walk to the grocery store with her in the Ergo. It’s about a half mile walk, down past the lake. It was actually very refreshing out in the brisk air.

We picked up a french baguette, organic bananas, and some organic green tea and headed back home. The store was busy with everyone getting their last-minute grocery shopping done. We were in no hurry.

20121224-184359.jpgOn the way home, we found a tree full of these cute little pinecones. I picked a few. Not sure what I will do with them yet, maybe make Christmas ornaments with them for next year.

We also saw a guy on a snowboard on the lake. He had a parasail attached to him, like one they use for kiteboarding (I looked it up, apparently it is called snowkiting). He was cruising around the lake. I definitely want to try that at some point! It makes me want to find boots for my nordic skis (my really awesome Freecycle find) so I can get out and enjoy the snow a bit more.

I hope everyone has enjoyed their Christmas Eve, we sure have.


Groceries on Clearance… And Not Just Boxed Stuff

As much as I miss Publix, I am growing to love Carrs. Carrs is very similar to Publix, minus my brother working in the bakery. Carrs does have one up on Publix, two actually. The Carrs near our house is also open 24 hours. Carrs puts perishable items on clearance when it nears its expiration or sell by date. We are talking 30% off fresh meat and seafood and 50% off dairy, packaged meats, and pretty much everything else in the store. Some stuff goes out of date that same day, but other stuff is still good for 3-4 days.

Let’s just say, I have no shame digging in the clearance section to see what I can find. On my last shopping trip, I found this giant 32 oz container of Nancy’s yogurt for $1.50. That’s the same price I would have paid for two 6 oz Yoplait containers.  We still have two days to finish it.  We have about 2/3 of it left.  I need to find a recipe that uses vanilla yogurt.

Does your local grocery store mark down fresh food?

Food Waste Friday 11/30


After years of wasting what could have fed a small Ethiopian village, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

This week we managed to only throw away 4 hotdogs, if you can even call these food.  Clearly this was one of Tony’s purchases.  If I ever buy hotdogs, they are all beef.  Sad that he didn’t eat them, but at the same time… ewww.20121130-151541.jpg

On a positive note, I did manage to use up some leftover rice by making fried rice for Ava and I one night.  Fried rice is my favorite way to use up leftover rice.  It’s also a really good way to use up any leftover veggies too.

I also saved half of an onion by using it up in a batch of my potato corn chowder.  Yum!

How did you do this week?