Bring everyone along on your healthy journey (most of the time)
Once your household figures out that you are making changes, you may find that your good intentions met with resistance. Only you know your own family. Sometimes you might tell them what the changes you are making are – but be sure to let them know what’s in it for them, that they are having to change. Or you might choose to keep them in the dark (about hidden veggies in their dinner, for example). No one should have to cook a raft of dinners every evening, so it makes sense to adapt what the rest of the family has with what you (or indeed any other grown-ups) might be having.
The basis of a healthy diet includes following these 3 very basic rules:
- Eat protein at every meal and snack.
- Pack in as much veg as you can.
- Be careful with starchy carbs – these make you stack on extra weight and kill your energy. Losing weight and regaining your va-va-vroom means cutting back on starch like potatoes, rice, pasta and couscous. I should mention that stealing the kids’ sweets and eating their leftovers is also off limits if you want to improve your health!
“Reduce Meal-Time Stress”
One of the easiest ways to reduce meal-time stress is to have a family conference. I often suggest to my clients that they sit down with their little (and big) people and get together a list of meals that they love to eat. I would even this this is ESSENTIAL when you are really busy. There’s nothing worse when you are breaking your neck to provide a delicious home-cooked meal and everyone pronounces it disgusting! My children are so much better at eating these days but when they were small they each had to choose one meal a week. I found they are more likely to eat the other one’s favourite if they have their own day.
Super fast nutritious meals that everyone will eat:
Mild curries made with coconut milk
Deliciously creamy. You can add a little extra spice for the adults if you’re eating after the children. Add in as many veggies as you think you can get away with. Serve everyone else with rice and yourself with cauliflower rice.
Ragu or tomato sauce
It’s possible to hide minced mushrooms, onion, garlic, Italian herbs like basil, rosemary and oregano, plus finely diced red pepper, grated carrot and even some very finely chopped greens like kale or spinach into a tomato-based sauce without anyone noticing. Everyone gets a health upgrade!
Blended veg in soups works well and disguises the vegetable-ness. Add extra
rice or mini pasta to bulk up for the kids. Alternatively, you might serve theirs
with a bread roll, while you have a couple of oatcakes spread with hummus.
Use the trick above with the ragu sauce, then use courgette (or half courgetti
and half spaghetti) for your ‘pasta’ side
The hardest part is in making the components like the ragu sauce. When you assemble the rest of the family’s, consider creating yours with thin slices of
aubergine or butternut squash to act as the lasagne sheets instead.
Things in breadcrumbs
It’s pretty easy and not as time-consuming as you think to coat fish or chicken in breadcrumbs for the kids. While you have the meat or fish out and you’re cooking theirs, you could wrap your fish/chicken in foil with garlic, chilli, ginger and lashings of soy ssauce for a quick Asian-inspired meal.
Made with half sweet potato and half white potato. You can take a similar
approach to a fish pie or – better still – replace the potato with a cauliflower
Mum has the filling with extra salad.
Fancy a pizza?
Choose a super thin base like a brown or mixed seed or sweet potato wrap, then add the tomato sauce and fillings on top. Go easy on the cheese, using a good quality mozzarella. Sprinkle baby spinach or rocket over yours.
Throw anything in. Chicken, chops, halloumi, veggies of all kinds including
tomatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, onions, garlic, courgettes, sweet
potatoes. Everyone’s favourite in one tin! Season with anything you like.
The myth of the ‘left over’ fish finger
One of the things that plagues my clients is picking food off their kids’ plates at tea-time or buying ‘treats’ for the kids and then eating them and feeling guilty. We both know what’s going on here. I used to frequently end up with a few extra fish fingers or chicken nuggets and I was brought up not to waste them. How could you bin them when there is so much hunger in the world. Surely, you should be grateful not wasteful? And you really would be ‘good’ if it weren’t for those treats lurking in the cupboard, destined for other tummies rather than yours. I have two things that might work for you if you are committed to making some changes:
1 Store the junk somewhere else and just don’t visit that place.
2 If you know you are ravenous by tea-time and your resolve is likely to weaken, plan a healthy snack around this time and make an agreement with yourself that you don’t eat leftovers EVER… When you catch yourself, fingers poised, heading to the plate, stop yourself. We don’t do that any more…
Always include protein with every meal or snack to help keep your blood sugar levels even. Sliced pear with almond butter makes a great and satisfying healthy snack.