Healthy cooking tips for your entire family
All it takes is a little patience, and forethought to change your family’s eating habits to healthy ones. If you’re intent in transforming your nutrition, the support of your family will go a long way to ensuring your success. And, in the end, it’s a win-win for everyone as you get to stay on track with your nutrition, while ensuring that your family enjoys all the health benefits too.
Lead by example. Our children aren’t born with bad habits, they learn them from us. So start creating a healthy eating environment, which will teach your children how to make healthier food choices, and establish good eating habits.
Important lifestyle changes
Structure eating times: Establish a routine for eating. Although work and school schedules become hectic impose regular meals times, and make time for family sit-down meals.
Don’t force the issue: Work around the dishes that your children don’t like. Introduce healthier options in small portions rather than a complete meal makeover.
Success lies in the way you cook: Now, more than ever, you need to become more creative and inventive with the foods you serve. Try new spices and various cooking styles, especially with vegetables. Grilling thinly sliced egg plant, for instance, and using sweet potatoes to replace crisps are great healthy eating ideas.
Make it fun: Use small side servings of reduced calorie sauces to compliment the meal and give your family various flavour options for their dishes.
Involve them in cooking: You’ll be surprised at how receptive your family might be to change if you involve them in the entire process. Rather than emphasising the obvious dietary change, simply say ‘mom is trying something fun’ and give them the option of picking which healthy dish you’ll be cooking.
Cook new foods together: Involve your children in food preparation. If they don’t like a certain food on the first attempt, leave it and try it again another day.
There is no substitute for creativity: Make the plate a fun event, especially for younger children.
Serve portions separately: You can cook a healthy meal and add side servings of good quality high fibre carbs on the side.
Institute a fun food night: This is like a cheat meal for regular dieters. If you can keep your family on track with a healthy eating plan for the entire work week, then plan something fun, like home-made pizza night for the weekend.
Slowly change the way your family thinks about food: Food is not a reward. This concept might be the most difficult topic to tackle as we have all formed this type of association with food over time. It’s especially hard to reason with toddlers and young kids to get them to eat a balanced meal if they already associate sweet treats with rewards. While they seem to thrive on love and sunshine most days, they also need the right balance of food for mental and physical development. Bribery to eat a meal only leads to long-term difficulties. If you can avoid this now while they’re very young consider yourself lucky. Using a favourite play time activity or toy as a reward is easier in the long run. The promise of dessert after every meal also sets the tone for years to come.
Take into consideration any after school activities and increase the number of meals you pack for your child accordingly. If your child only comes home at around 3pm, pack two light lunches and a snack.
- Studies have shown that the more stable blood sugar levels are, the better your child’s concentration and mood becomes. Good performance in school and in activities is directly linked to nutrient intake.
- If you pack a proper lunch you can cut out tuck shop money. We all like to think our children are super-responsible, but if presented with the option your kids might just take the chips, chocolate and coke as a lunch option. Removing the choice is simply the easiest.
Fit Family Meals
Tuna Pasta Bake
1 onion, sliced
1 cup drained corn
1 cup drained peas
2 cans of tuna in brine, drained
100ml skim milk
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks
300g wholewheat pasta
½ cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
Chopped basil and oregano
Cook the pasta and set aside in a separate dish.
Sprinkle some grated cheese, basil and oregano to grill, and serve separate to tuna.
Pre-heat over to 180ºC.
Combine all the ingredients together and spoon into an oven-proof dish.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the top starts browning.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.