News | Published July 23, 2012

Fitting healthy eating into a busy family schedule

This article, published in the July/August 2012 issue of Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, really hits home for me and my family. As we have four kids playing baseball and softball, we are constantly caught in the crossfire of when and what to eat. When the game starts at 6 and the child needs to be there at 5, when do you eat dinner? 4:00pm? 9:00pm? Neither time is ideal for our family. The kids need energy for their game or practice, but they aren't very hungry at 4:00 and can't eat a big meal at that point. By 9:00, everyone is famished but mom doesn't want to start cooking a meal, and it isn't healthy to eat right before bed. We too often end up eating something on the fly that isn't the healthiest choice. Concession food isn't a great option. We end up feeling stuck.

There are healthier options - even if you are traveling from one child's practice to another's game. Consider keeping a small bag filled with healthy food choices - bottled water, baby carrots, lower-sugar granola bars, peanut butter crackers - in your car when running around town. These choices are great alternative to empty calories (and little fuel for your high-energy kid!) like chips, sports or energy drinks, and the drive-thru. If you must resort to a trip to a fast foot restaurant, keep in mind that you can make health-aware choices even when you are seeking convenience. Consider a grilled chicken sandwich (hold the cheese and mayo!) and pair it with a side salad or apple slices instead of French fries. Skip the soda, too, and opt instead for low-fat milk, unsweetened iced tea, or water.