Alison Sweeney, actress, host of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, wife and mom to 7-year-old son Ben and 3-year-old daughter Megan, has recently teamed up with Green Giant to launch One Giant Pledge in an effort to inspire families to eat one more vegetable per day. We know that getting our kids to eat healthy can be challenging, but Alison says it's all about starting with a good foundation.
"We eat healthy all the time, so at this point the kids are used to it and happy with our family plan. I keep veggies out and accessible as a snack, after school or even before dinner. I usually cut up bell peppers for a salad, and the kids are always munching on them as they set the table. It’s also great to include the kids at the grocery store — deciding which veggies to buy, and then they feel part of the process."
And part of that process is helping to prepare the meal too. "Family meals are super important to all of us. Not just sitting down to eat together, but we usually get the kids involved with making dinner too. Dave and Ben man the grill together, Megan helps me mix things, the kids set the table together. We all chip in, and get to interact while getting dinner ready. At dinner we always talk about who made what, and compliment them on their contribution. It's fun family bonding time."
She also encouraged her kids by taking the One Giant Pledge, so they too feel committed to making an effort to eat one more veggie a day. It’s easy if you prepare veggie dishes that your kids enjoy. Alison says she makes a mean stir-fry that her kids love, which is a sure-fire way to get them to clean their plates! And while she’s lucky that her kids actually like veggies, she realizes that they’ll always be exposed to poor food choices.
"From commercials advertising unhealthy snacks and cereals on kids programming, to play dates where they make cookies or go out for ice cream or fast food as a 'treat,' it's so tough to control the environment your kids are in 24/7. We just try to do the best we can do."
While our kids will always be faced with temptations, it’s important to teach them healthy habits that they can take with them into adulthood. "The No. 1 priority to me is for my kids to have a healthy emotional and mental relationship with food. I don't want them learning to emotionally eat or view food as a reward," explains Alison, who has admitted to spending years on crash diets.
As with all moms, Alison leads a busy lifestyle. When you're a full-time working mom, making the right food choices when eating on the go can be difficult. So how does she do it? "For me, planning ahead is key. I buy stuff on the weekend and cut up fruits and veggies to take to work with me during the week. That way I have healthy snacks on hand, and am not tempted to go to a vending machine."
And balancing family and a demanding career is just as challenging. Alison says it’s about exactly that, balance. "It's tough because we have long shoot days sometimes or occasionally I have to travel for the show. But I do the best I can to balance out my work time with my family time. If I have a really heavy work week, I make it a point to stay home on the weekend, and really give the kids my attention. We have a lot of quality family time together. And it all balances itself out in the end."
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