Eating healthy and finding good recipes that your family enjoys can be difficult, especially when you have a busy schedule or picky eaters on your hands. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a cycle of fast food and missed meals when you have a lot to do, which can have negative effects on your physical and mental health. Not only that, your family will feel those effects, too. It’s fairly easy for little ones to pick up bad habits that can last for years.

In order to teach your kids healthy habits and keep everyone fit and happy, look for ways you can incorporate healthy eating into your daily schedule. If you work long hours, for instance, consider prepping some meals ahead of time on Sunday night and freezing them. This way, you can simply thaw out your meal after a long day at work and save yourself a trip to the nearest burger joint. Keeping healthy snacks handy will also go a long way toward helping your family make better choices.

Take advantage of seasonal items

Buying seasonal items is a great way to save money and take advantage of their benefits, so head to the farmers market in summer and stock up on fresh tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, spinach and fruits the entire family will love. In fall and winter, use the cold weather as inspiration to make vegetable-filled soups and chili, which feed a lot of people for not a lot of money. You can also prepare soup and freeze it, giving you an easy and healthy meal option when it’s been a long day or when you haven’t had a chance to get to the grocery store.

Boost your mental health

The food we eat, along with the way we care for our relationships and handle stress, anxiety, or depression, can play a big part in the state of our mental health. For those who have struggled with addiction or a mental health disorder, the right diet can make a big difference in being able to cope in a healthy way with those feelings. Eating foods including dark, leafy greens, nuts and fish and cutting out refined sugars can go a long way towards helping you feel better.

Make mealtimes fun

If you have a picky eater at home, one of the easiest ways to get them to eat their veggies is to make mealtimes fun. You can do this by getting creative with the food placement on their plate, allowing them to make their own meal (such as giving them the toppings to make their own veggie pizza), or taking dinner to the living room instead of eating at the kitchen table. Change things up and allow your child to see mealtimes as a fun endeavor instead of something they have to get through.

Keep healthy snacks on hand

It can be hard to stick to a healthy eating plan if you don’t have the right tools at your disposal, so make a shopping list and stick to it as closely as possible; don’t be tempted by the junk food! When you get home, cut up veggies and place them in baggies, fill a drawer in your fridge with string cheese and lean turkey, and have healthy dips--like hummus--on hand. You can also make up small “snack boxes” using resealable plastic containers that hold a variety of different healthy items; your kids can grab these when they get home from school. The more healthy snacks you have on hand, the easier it will be for you and your family to stick to a good eating plan.

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