How to Be a Healthy Eater

Sheila Bellefeuille, 37

Mom of Samantha, 12, Thomas, 9, and Sara, 2

Sheila wants to lose 20 pounds. But she's always snacking on the junk food she keeps around the house for her kids. "If it's salty, I'll eat it," Sheila says. It also doesn't help that her husband and kids want only burgers, pork chops, fried chicken, and pasta with cheese sauce for dinner, and refuse to even try vegetables. "My goal isn't just to fit into my 'skinny' jeans," Sheila says. "I'd also like to develop better eating habits."

The Real Diet Dirt

Yikes, this family's diet is in need of an overhaul! "Sheila says that the kids won't eat vegetables. Well, she's the adult, she's in charge, and she needs to make changes, starting with serving some sort of vegetable at every dinner," Bauer says. "Even if her kids turn up their noses, she needs to try again the next night." Sheila should also limit the amount of starches on the table. Bauer recommends making only enough so that each person gets one serving. If they're still hungry once that's gone, they'll be more likely to try the vegetable.

Her Eat-Right Action Plan

  • Enlist her husband's help. Sheila needs to get her spouse on board with their new eating plan if she hopes to improve her kids' diets. "Even if her husband can't stand vegetables, he needs to eat them at dinner," Bauer says.
  • Get the snack food out of the house! "Sheila needs to stop buying chips that are loaded in salt," Bauer says. "Her kids certainly don't need to be eating all this junk-and once it's gone she won't be tempted to binge on it." She can make snacktime healthier for everyone by stocking the kitchen with soy chips, light microwave popcorn, rice cakes with peanut butter, edamame (soybeans), and baby carrots to dip in salsa.

  • Rethink restaurant food. One of Sheila's biggest eating pitfalls is dining out on the weekends. "She needs to eat smarter at restaurants," Bauer says. "For starters, don't let the waiter put the bread basket on the table. Most people can't resist the temptation." If she must indulge when she goes out to eat, her best bet is to order a healthy entree, then split either a fatty appetizer or dessert with her husband. Always ask that sautes and stir-fries be cooked in lemon, olive oil, or wine—not butter. Finally, opt for one glass of wine or light beer instead of a mixed drink. "Sweet mixers are loaded with calories," Bauer says.
  • Keep busy after 9 p.m. Once the kids go to bed, Sheila turns into a nocturnal eating machine, devouring everything in her refrigerator. "She needs to give herself an activity each night, such as going for a walk, calling a friend, or taking up knitting, to get her mind off food," Bauer says. If Sheila really craves something sweet, Bauer suggests eating three or four frozen chocolate kisses.

One Month Later

Although she won't weigh herself, Sheila says her clothes are definitely looser. That's not all: She's started walking with the stroller for an hour every day while her older kids are at school, and she's joined a gym. She's also stuck to her guns about changing her family's eating habits. To her surprise, her children have become fans of their healthier snack options, and they've come to expect greens on the dinner table. "Not only do I always put out a plate of vegetables-but my kids will actually take a bite or two!" she says.

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment