7 Healthy Family Dining Tips
Eat meals together as a family.
Experts say that families reap enormous emotional benefits when
its members regularly eat meals together: Family communication is
better, people eat more nutritiously, and the behavior of children is
better overall. All of this means that your household is less a den of
stress than a harmonious oasis.
Make your own healthful selections at the supermarket.
If you aren’t the primary grocery shopper for the family, hit the supermarket with your spouse and make sure that the shopping cart contains foods that you like that also fit into your eating plan. This will increase the odds that home-cooked meals are appealing to you and help you reach your goals for weight loss and blood sugar control. It also will reduce the chances of arguments cropping up over menu selection.
Downsize—don’t eliminate—the junk food in your cupboard.
Unless you do all of the household food shopping, you may feel as if you don’t have much control over whether tempting foods enter your house.On the other hand, you might also be reluctant to ban all junk foods and “punish” your family. There is a middle ground: Ask the family shopper to buy those tempting foods in smaller sizes—half of a cake instead of a whole one, for instance, small containers of ice cream, and small bags of potato chips. If you end up indulging in these items, you’ll at least have some automatic portion control.
Create a playbook of healthful recipe favorites.
Ask each person in your household to scour cookbooks, food magazines, and the Internet for healthful recipes that look appealing. Try them out and put the “keepers” in your recipe file. Teach every family member how to make these meals—or at least the ones that they chose—so the daily cooking duties don’t just fall on one person. The more involved (and proud) your family members are of their cooking contributions, the more fun healthy eating will be.
Flank less-healthy entrées with bowls of veggies.
On a night when the main dish at dinner does not fit with your meal plan, set a large bowl of raw or steamed vegetables on the table as a side dish. Take just a small portion of the entrée and extra helpings of the vegetable. Other members of your family probably won’t be as meticulous about healthful eating as you, but that’s okay. When you show this kind of flexibility, everyone will be satisfied by the household’s dinner fare over the long haul.
Start a compost pile.
Many families have a “clean your plate” rule that just encourages everyone to overeat. However, when there’s an earth-friendly way to recycle excess food, leaving food on your plate will not seem so wasteful. Plant-based table scraps and the trimmings from fruits and vegetables go in the pile. Turning your compost pile with a shovel once a week and dumping in your grass clippings will add a little more physical activity to your life as well.
When schedules conflict, adjust your eating.
Say your son is playing his big clarinet solo in a talent show at noon, right when you should be having lunch. Why not pack your meal in a refrigerated lunch bag? To hold you over during the performance, eat half of your sandwich during the car ride to the show, and eat the rest of your lunch as soon as it’s over.