We all know we need to put down the Twinkies and eat more healthy food, right?  But it’s not always that easy.  Then again, why is it so hard?  Maybe because we’re all so busy, constantly running from one thing to the next, and maybe because we’ve gotten so used to eating “convenience” foods when we’re running around that we neglect to see the convenience in fruit and other healthy foods.  For years, we’ve existed on junk food, processed “easy” meals that we can microwave for dinner, and snacks that are prepackaged and perfect to throw in a briefcase, purse or backpack.  But did you ever stop to think that a bag of baby carrots is just as easy to throw in a bag as a bag of chips (and they’re more sturdy!)?

Here are a few ways you (and your kids) can start changing your eating habits from “Oh no!” to “Hello!”

1.  Decorate healthy.  This doesn’t mean that the theme of your house needs to be citrus and strawberries, but how about instead of filling that empty space in the middle of the kitchen table with a cutesy candle, you buy a nice, big bowl and fill it with fruit?  Why do fruits and veggies need to hide in the bottom drawer of a refrigerator?  True, some fruits and veggies fare better and last longer when kept cool, but there are plenty that could be getting comfy together in an easily accessible bowl.  And you know what else?  A bowl of fruit always looks pretty.:)

But let’s take it a little further.  What about mixing up a little trail mix or granola and tossing it in some grab-and-go bags that you keep in a basket close to the door?  Or take some time when you put things away in the refrigerator.  Instead of shoving that veggie-filled pasta salad to the back, how about you bring it up front and pair it up with a container of strawberries and some yogurt?  Keep what’s healthy and good front and center, so when your family opens that door to peruse the contents, it’s the good stuff that catches their eye first.  Junk food and other processed foods can stick to the back corners or a high shelf in the pantry.  Chances are that what’s right in front of people is what will catch their attention.  Keep your “bad” food shopping to a minimum and then make them work to find it.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

2.  Eat together!  Try to make a practice of having your meals together as family as much as possible.  We all have lives, but research shows that families that eat together, eat better.  If you’re eating with your kids then you control what they’re getting for dinner (or breakfast, etc.).  Most kids, if left to their own devices, might just opt for a frozen pizza or some chicken nuggets cooked in the microwave, but if you’re cooking the meal (or even picking up the meal), you can make sure that lean meats, veggies, fruits and low-fat, low-sugar sides are available.  We all know that people tend to migrate toward what they know, so if your kids are eating healthy on a regular basis, these will be the foods that they move toward and include in their lives as they move forward.  This is not to say they’ll never drink a soda or eat a bag of M and M’s, but we’re betting if they know what it means to eat clean and healthy, then they also understand the concept of an occasional treat.

3.  Sing some praises!  When you see your family responding to the healthy clues you’ve been leaving, give them some praise!  There’s no harm in some positive reinforcement!  Your son grabbed an apple on the way out the door instead of asking for a Snickers Bar?  Hallelujah!  Give him a high five!  Your husband finally started making himself a breakfast smoothie you’ve been pushing on him for weeks instead of driving through a fast-food joint for a greasy sausage biscuit?  A standing ovation might be in order!  Whatever it is, when you see the good going into their mouths instead of the bad, say something nice.

At Brown Bag, we obviously care about packing as much health and taste into every bite we serve.  Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or in some locations, dinner, we pack as much nutrition as possible into every delicious bite.  Yep, you’ll see a basket of cookies and brownies, individually packaged to help you save you from yourself.:)  We understand the concept of a treat too, and we think we all deserve one every now and then; we also think you deserve the very best and healthiest that we have to offer, so feel free to start some healthy habits here with us!