Balancing reward and restraint to make your family’s diet healthy again

What your children eat in their early years, and how mealtimes are conducted at home, sticks with them for the rest of their lives. By setting a good example from the start, you are providing a wonderful opportunity; they’ll enjoy a well-balanced diet and a gain a lifelong appreciation of fresh, healthy food.


It’s a common misconception that healthy foods are expensive and difficult to cook; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Fresh fruit and vegetables are far cheaper than ready-made alternatives or processed foods, and they can be prepared in minutes. Finger foods are always popular with younger members of the family, so for a tasty lunch, you could offer sliced sweet red peppers, carrot sticks and broccoli florets, along with cubes of cheese and crackers. Alternatively, finely chop or grate your vegetables and scatter them over a tortilla with a little hummus, then just wrap it up and its ready to go.

Part of healthy eating includes regular mealtimes and planning ahead; that means everyone eats together where possible, and you have what you need without having to shop every day. Moreover, regular eating times will wipe out hunger pangs, helping you to avoid snacking on high calorie treats.

To encourage your family to eat new foods, get them involved in the cooking process as much as possible. Blend their familiar foods with new ones and serve them in an innovative way, such as chicken skewers made with cubes of chicken breast, sweet peppers and onion. Children will love assembling the ingredients on the skewer and then sprinkling over some spices and a squeeze of lime before cooking. Pasta is another quick and easy option; make a sauce by squashing some baby tomatoes (a messy job that children adore), then add olive oil and basil before heating through. Tip in the cooked pasta, then add a sprinkling of cheese and you’re done.


While you’re working on a healthier family diet, don’t forget the occasional treat because life is all about balance. Children and adults alike respond well to being rewarded for their efforts, so if everyone has chipped in during mealtimes, tried unusual foods, or maybe even discovered a new favorite, it should be recognized. Going out for a fast food meal together is something you can enjoy as part of a healthy balanced diet. On special occasions, it’s great to visit a restaurant with the children and make the most of your precious family time.


Rick Schaden is a fast food entrepreneur who enjoys a healthy lifestyle and promotes sporting fixtures such as the US Pro Challenge, a multi-stage cycling event. Through his charitable work and various business initiatives, he supports many people in the Denver area. These range from veterans to small business owners, families and many others who are in need. Rick is a donor for Jessie’s Homes for Families and America’s Road Home, charities that help homeless people to find a safe, comfortable place to live. To find out more and catch up on all the latest news, head over to Rick Schaden’s twitter.