By Martin Hamer, Making Life Healthy

Have you ever wondered how ‘fun’ and ‘healthy’ can be put into the same sentence? Are you struggling to get your loved ones on board with your new healthy lifestyle or even your vision to become a healthier version of yourself? Then look no further, as this article will identify the potential reasons holding you back from being a healthier family and how you can incorporate simple, habits, practices and games to get all your loved ones on board!

I hear it repeatedly with the people I work with… I’m way too busy, I don’t have the time to eat right myself, never mind look after everyone else. I get it, you’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy, but we don’t have to let it defeat us.

When you’re busy, you need to have a plan to get the important stuff done. So, before we get into the fun part of becoming a healthier family and overcoming some of the challenges you may face, we first need to make sure you and your family take a quick five minutes to plan, prepare and commit to the days and weeks ahead.

This can be as simple as having everyone’s input in compiling your shopping list or taking the time to ask your family simple questions such as, what do you want to achieve this week? You could even call it a Sunday ritual, ‘Super Sunday’ or ‘Powerful Planning’ – whatever works best to get you and the family together to set some weekly goals. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be proactive when making healthy lifestyle changes.

Simply taking the time to plan with the family can be a very powerful tool. For some people, it’s all they need to improve the health and wellness of their whole family. So now that bit’s done, let’s take a look at some awesome ideas you can try to get the whole family on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon!

Stage 1 – The Kitchen Makeover

Now, who doesn’t like a makeover? Most people like to be pampered, spoiled and given the attention they truly deserve. Agree? Then, why not do the same for your kitchen? I’m not talking about spending thousands of pounds on a new kitchen, I’m talking about what’s inside your fridge, freezer, cupboards, and any other places you may like to store (or hide) your food. The next time you and your family do a five-minute ‘Super Sunday’ planning session, sit down and play ‘kitchen makeover.’

Here’s how it works… In teams of two or more, for example, parents versus kid(s), you have five minutes to head into the kitchen and make a list of foods you consider unhealthy or RED foods. These are foods that might be incredibly sugary, packaged goods and just poor for your health. Once both teams have made the list, any food that appears on both teams’ lists is then removed from the kitchen. Now, I’m not promoting food waste, so these foods could then be donated to a food bank or local charity. Not only are you creating a healthier kitchen environment, but you’re assisting with your local charities to help those less fortunate than yourself. Win, win!

Stage 2 – Supermarket Sweep

After you’ve completed your kitchen makeover, it’s now time to carry on the competition in your teams. You now have five minutes to write down as many healthy foods you can think of. Once the time’s up, both teams read out their items. Any matches are treated like gold and must go on the shopping list. You can also play this game at your local supermarket by doing a 10-minute healthy food dash. Any items that are in both trollies or baskets must be taken home with you!

Although stages 1 and 2 are good family fun, they can also be very insightful and educational. You will be able to gain an understanding of what your family thinks good and bad foods are, as well as encouraging healthy eating behaviours and choices. Not to mention, giving your kitchen a well-deserved makeover!

Family supermarket shopping

Stage 3 – After the shop

After the shop, it’s now time to think about what you can do with your new, healthy ingredients from the successful supermarket sweep. There are millions of recipes you can choose from and I have a whole range in my Making Life Healthy nutrition books (see the end of the article for more information on these). Depending on your skill set, give some recipes a try or do a tasting night with your family. Even games such as a ‘blind taste’ where you’re blindfolded and have to guess the food you’re eating are great ways to have fun and eat healthily. But for a quick, easy, health-conscious meal, why not try my BBQ tortilla pizza?

Ingredients

2 tortilla wraps, 1 cup of onions, 85g cooked chicken, 50ml BBQ sauce, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, a cupped handful of cherry tomatoes, light mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of parmesan.

How to –Fry the onions, add to a small bowl with the cooked chicken, then toss with the BBQ sauce and vinegar. While you’re doing this, toast the tortilla wraps in the oven.

To assemble the pizza, place some extra BBQ sauce over the tortilla wraps, top with the chicken, fried onions, and vinegar mix. Add the cupped handfuls of tomatoes, mozzarella, and parmesan before returning to the oven to allow the cheese to melt. Place on dinner plates and enjoy a simple, fun, tasty meal that all the family can enjoy!

Quick hacks

If time is a real concern for you and reaching for the microwaveable, ready meals is the only option, then why not try some of these simple hacks to improve the quality of food your family is eating?

The night before – Soak hearty foods like whole grains, beans and oats to save up to an hour of cooking time. Pour cooking grains like spelt or barley into a bowl, cover with a few inches of water and leave them overnight. When ready to cook, boil for 15 – 20mins. Add these to a super-tasty, colourful salad.

In the morning – Prep in bulk, remembering that chopping one carrot takes practically the same time as chopping three! Get some quick chopping done in the morning, store in the fridge and have you veg ready and prepped for lunches and evening meals.

Super shakes – A simple and easy way to get quality nutrients into your family’s diet is to create your own super shakes. Follow this simple guide, toss all in a blender and enjoy! Choose a liquid (200 – 300ml), a fruit, a veg, and a fat. An example could be milk, banana, spinach, and peanut butter. Quick, easy and damn tasty! Why not reach out and get my super smoothie recipe book?

Build your meals – Kids love to build and design, so why not have some ‘go-to meals’ where they are required to build their food fresh, such as fajitas, enchiladas, or make your own pizzas. The only rule is that the building work must contain plenty of colour like a drawing. So, they best get building with all the colourful fruit and veg that’s available!

Pizza making with children

Final thoughts…

I hope you’ve found these suggestions useful on how to incorporate some fun activities within your family life to encourage healthy eating habits. Some may work for your family and others may not, but what’s the harm in trying?

Although the stages and quick hacks included in this article will put your family on the fast track to eating more healthily, remember that they require time. Nobody is going to give you time, so you must create it, carve it out, even grab it! Once you’ve got it, just make sure you appreciate it, defend it and enjoy it. Good luck and stay healthy!

Martin is a Health and Fitness Tutor, Lecturer, Writer, Personal Trainer, and Owner of Making Life Healthy. For more nutrition tips and advice from Martin, call 07470158544 or visit: http://procoach.app/makinglifehealthy