5 little things you can do to make better food choices with your family

Family food choicesWe’re excited to be sharing our favorite tips on behalf of our super awesome sponsor UNREAL Candy. Plus? We’re excited to give away a $500 gift card to one of you, with a chance to win a $10,000 shopping spree. Seriously.

With the new year here we know we’re not the only ones thinking about how make better food choices–not just for us, but for our kids. Of course we know that we’re not going do a 180 overnight with our eating habits (boy, we love our Sunday pancakes), but there are some pretty simple changes that can really add up.

Here, just a few of our editors’ favorite ideas for eating healthy as a family. We hope they help you too!

Healthy Eating Guide: Choose Whole Grains

1. Choose whole grains whenever you can
You probably know this already, but it’s amazing how often you actually get a choice in the matter and don’t think about it. There’s whole pasta on the supermarket shelf, whole grain toast instead of white with your eggs at the coffee shop, whole wheat tortillas instead of white flour ones. Whole grains are higher in fiber and in complex carbohydrates–both of which help you feel fuller longer. And, generally they’re delicious! We admit we like food that actually tastes like…food.

2. Switch to Greek yogurt
This is one of the easiest changes to make because it’s sooooo good. Greek yogurt is strained a whole lot, removing most of the lactose and sugar. This makes it thick and deliciously tangy, with up to half the sugar of regular yogurt, and double (double!) the protein. Good breakfast choice. You can also swap it in for sour cream–our kids like it with their quesadillas and don’t taste the difference at all. The good news is it’s now available widely and we don’t have to forage for it at gourmet stores like we used to.

Healthy Eating Guide: Drink Water

3. Skip the soda that comes with your meal.
When we’re on the road, we’re not above a convenient drive-thru stop with the kids. But it’s amazing what a knee-jerk reaction it is to just pick a soda when prompted. We’ve learned that just because it comes with the meal when you’re dining out, doesn’t mean you have to consume 20 ounces of high-fructose corn syrup and carbonated water. Choose unsweetened iced tea, club soda, or hey, simply order water. We know it’s hard to turn down something that seems “free,” but in the end, we’d rather put those calories toward a few fries instead.

4. Call them sweets, not treats
This is one of our favorite tips for talking about foods with our own kids. We don’t mind if our kids eat sweets sometimes–whether it’s a milkshake, a handful of candy, or a few chocolate chips on their waffles–but we don’t want them to think of it as a reward. A treat by definition is just that. A sweet is just another kind of food, one that you don’t eat as often as the other stuff. Just changing the language you use is a good way to start getting your kids to make better choices on their own.

UNREAL Natural Colored Candy

5. Read the ingredients!
Oh man, we should all have this drilled into our brain by now, but we’re as guilty as anyone of just grabbing items that have big starbursts on the package that say “natural” or “wholesome.” Tricky. The only real way to know how “wholesome” something is is to check the ingredient list and see what’s in there. It’s one of the things we love about UNREAL candies–what you see is what you get. Sugar is just plain cane sugar. Milk is real milk. There’s no corn syrup (high-fructose or otherwise), no hydrogenated fats, nothing artificial. And noooo GMO’s–although you can’t yet find that on most product labeling.

Hey, if you’re going to have sweets, might as well be ones you don’t have to feel wildly guilty about.

Our partner UNREAL candy can be found at stores everywhere including Target, for the same price as other candy bars.

EXTRA EXTRA COOL: WIN IT! We’ve got a $500 Target gift card up for grabs for one lucky reader! WHOO! To enter, take a picture of UNREAL candy wherever you find it it and email it to unreal@pongr.com with #coolmompicks in the subject line. Just the candy is fine; no need for you or anyone else to be in the photo! You’ll be automatically entered in both the CMP-only giveaway ($500 gift card) and the grand prize giveaway of a $10,000 Target gift card. Awesome!

It’s kind of great that UNREAL will be able to fill their page
with evidence of all the moms who really care about the ingredients in the foods our kids
eat. Plus, it’s a chance to win a sweet prize. (Ha.) 

No purchase necessary, void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends January 18, 2013. US only. One entry per person. By emailing your photo, you’re certifying that it is your original photograph. Official sweepstakes rules here.

{Top photo via}

Cool Mom Staff

We spend our time looking for cool stuff so you don't have to. Hope this one fits the bill.


  • Reply January 9, 2013


    I have to say, I intended only to take the picture and move on, but the candy looked so good I picked up a bag. It was weird (in a good way) to see only ingredients I knew how to spell.

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    Megan C

    Just entered! Thanks for the chance!!! (And YAY, so happy to have found UNREAL!!! We bought a package while out shopping/photo-taking and my daughters LOVE it!).

  • Reply January 10, 2013


    More tips:
    –Let the kids help cook! In my house, this really means my 4-year-old stands on a chair at the counter and tastes things along the way. But kids are more likely to eat something if they have a hand in making it.
    –Only bring healthy food home. They can’t chow down on what’s not available :-)
    –The healthy snack drawer: Keep healthy snacks ready to go (in the pantry and fridge). My son knows where the snacks are and he’s allowed to help himself. And since I stock it, I know he’s only getting good stuff.
    –No seconds on anything until you finish the firsts. Keeps the kids from filling up on bread or other not-as-healthy sides.

  • Reply January 10, 2013


    I was in disbelief when I first saw an advert for UNREAL candy! But then I saw at Wegmans and read the ingredients… true to their word, it has NONE of the things I actively avoid for me and the kids (hubs is on his own, HFCS soda drinker). Unfortunately our gingerbread house was eaten before I took a pic (*guilty*)! Can’t wait for more varieties to be available for Easter baskets and occasional sweet-indulgences, of course!

  • Reply January 10, 2013


    I was able to try this candy for free as part of one of those WOM marketing websites and it really is delicious. I make homemade peanut butter cookies and I can tell you at first taste the homemade from a store bought one. That was the first thing that came to mind when I tried the UNREAL peanut butter cups. “Hey, this tastes like REAL peanut butter!” They’re delicious.

  • Reply January 10, 2013

    Janel Thomas

    I have been a fan of UNREAL for and all of the candy taste good and is much better than the other candy out there. My favorites are the Unreal 5 and Unreal 77

  • Reply January 12, 2013


    Also SO impressed with the Unreal brand. I thought it was a gimmick at first but indeed… it’s really (pun intended) delicious!

  • Reply January 18, 2013


    Done! The Unreal peanut butter cups are, indeed, unreal. Delicious. I can’t wait to see what they de-junk next.

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