Toby Amidor is a cookbook author and mother of three. She is the nutrition partner with SunButter and Revolution Foods.
Toby Amidor (far right) with her three children. The single working mom finds a way to get her family to eat healthy everyday. (Photo: Courtesy of Toby Amidor)
I am a single, working mom of three kids, but that doesn’t mean I give up on healthy eating habits for myself or my kids because I have little time to spare. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
Since my children were infants, I have taught and encouraged healthy eating habits and continue to integrate them into meal planning and daily recipe creation today.
When my children were able to sit upright in the shopping cart, I would wheel them into the produce section to teach them about the various fruits and vegetables. My 13-year old daughter is now able to select high-quality produce on her, which makes shopping for food quick and fun.
I made sure my kids were involved in the cooking process from a young age. When they were really small, I would ask them to grab foods from the refrigerator and pantry and mix ingredients. As they got older, they were able to measure ingredients. Now, I even have my 11-year old help me test recipes for my cookbooks.
The experiences I have provided to my children thus far have made them truly love food, family meal time and getting down and dirty with me in the kitchen.
Here’s how I squeeze healthy eating into every busy day:
1. Make breakfast a habit
Nutritionist and cookbook author Toby Amidor said eating breakfast is a must in her household. (Photo: demaerre, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
As a mother of three school-aged children, I have personally witnessed how proper nutrition and access to healthy food can be tools of empowerment in driving positive academic outcomes and helping children achieve their true potential. This is just one reason why breakfast is a non-negotiable each morning in my household.
For those who feel they don’t have time or resources to make a nutritious meal before school, know that eating a homemade healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be difficult. Make it quick by serving a piece of toast with SunButter, a sunflower butter packed with protein and essential nutrients like Vitamin E and magnesium. Or, try vanilla Greek yogurt topped with berries. And get the kids involved – ask them to spoon the SunButter or Greek yogurt into a bowl and pair with their favorite fruits or toast. A simple breakfast like this can be the difference in your child’s success that school day.
2. Lead by example
Every morning my kids see me eating breakfast. I tend to eat whole grain crackers topped with SunButter for a healthy dose of protein, fiber, healthy fats and essential micronutrients. During family dinners, they see how I fill my plate with lean protein, vegetables and whole grains. Showcasing healthy habits is one way kids learn.
3. Meal prep
Setting aside time to meal prep is key to eating healthy later in the week. (Photo: fortyforks, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Life is busy. Meal prepping is one way I can prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance and have them ready to heat and eat. I prepare over the weekend or one night during the week. My kids like helping me with the menu and cooking, when they can.
4. Educate kids on healthy eating
According to a recent paper published by UC Berkeley, students at schools that contract with a healthier school-lunch vendor perform better on tests. While Revolution Foods, an organization that believes that proper nutrition and healthy food can drive positive academic outcomes, brings nutrition education into the classroom, you can also educate your kids at home on after school snacks. This is especially important before they do their homework and attend after school activities.
5. Enjoy meals together
In a world filled with electronics, sitting down as a family gives everyone face time. It’s also a time to discuss highlights of the day, and spend a little time together. In my home, dinner is tough to eat together since my kids have after-school activities. I do make sure, however, to sit down at breakfast and for an evening snack. I encourage a happy environment so my kids will always associate meal time as a positive experience.
6. Make meals colorful
Nutritionist and cookbook author Toby Amidor said she models healthy eating habits to her family by eating lean meats, veggies and whole grains in front of them. (Photo: wmaster890, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Kids eat with their eyes, so offering meals and snacks with a rainbow of colors makes the food more appealing. Plus, the greater variety of colors in the food — think red tomatoes, yellow pepper and green spinach — the more nutrients your child is taking in. Hopefully, this habit will stick with them as they grow older.
Healthy eating and nutrition education can be fun, so long as you and your kids feel empowered to learn and cultivate goals together. Start with breakfast, apply some of these tips throughout the day, and your kids will be itching to join you in the kitchen in no time.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD is a Wall-Street Journal best-selling cookbook author of four cookbooks including “Smart Meal Prep for Beginners,” “The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook,” “The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook,” and “The Greek Yogurt Kitchen.” She’s a nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com and a contributor to US News Eat + Run, and Today’s Dietitian Magazine. Toby is the nutrition partner with SunButter and Revolution Foods.
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