Five Ways to Fix Your Family’s Food Plan
Do you want to ensure that your family stays healthy, falls sick less often, feels more alert, and does not suffer from lethargy? Then this simple health and energy-boosting plan is just what you need for everyone. These super ‘easy to follow’ steps to add more life and health to everyone’s day — everyday!
1. The basics
For everyone’s health’s sake build your menu around healthy foods. Make a list of superfoods that are good for your family health (even keeping specific requirements in mind). Also ensure that these five key foods — fish (specially fatty fish like salmon) or/and legumes (like peas and lentils), whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal), dairy (milk and milk products), vegetables and fruits and the right oils are the backbone on your menu plans.
2. Tweak the old
Keeping up with the family’s busy schedule and making good nutrition a priority is a challenge that every homemaker has to face. And usually this is where mothers like to fall back on traditional wisdom — ideas and thoughts handed over from the previous generations. ‘If they worked then, they’ll work now too,’ one thinks. Well, our experts say that old rules might not work today if they are blindly followed, as times and needs have also changed. But when they are tailored to the times, and used smartly they can work wonders. So, to take wise and informed decisions and do the best for your family’s health, read on.
Old wisdom — “eating sabzi is essential”
Yes, but just saying so is not good enough, you must learn how to add them to the diet smartly. Not only has research validated the sense behind this, it has gone even further to provide us with reasons as to why. The antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that vegetables and fruits gift to the body are incomparable and are absolutely essential for not only right growth and development, but also for boosting immunity and keeping us disease and now, flu free. If your family is not too keen on these health goldmines try to sneak them in hook or by crook.
Old wisdom — “eating 5 badams in the morning is essential”
Yes, but why just in the morning, nuts are essential, and so they should and can be had any time during the day. The fat in nuts is unsaturated. Just a few nuts deliver a jolt of heart-healthy monounsaturated or omega-3 fats, vitamin E, magnesium, and copper.
Old wisdom — “having milk is very essential for children”
Absolutely. But we’d like to go a little further and say that not just children, it is very important for adults too. Bones need help at every age. Plan for adequate dairy in your diet. Eating three servings of dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, a day is a deliciously easy and wholesome way for families to meet their daily calcium requirements. Experts say that people who consume more dairy foods have better overall diets, consume more nutrients and see improved bone health.
Old wisdom — “feed them only freshly prepared food”
Yes, all the time. This is something even modern experts now suggest too, as preservatives have been found to be detrimental to one’s health in the long run. Buy only fresh food — this should be your number one rule for good health. Keep pre-prepared, processed and canned foods to a minimum. This will help combat lifestyle-related problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and so on, which are all on the rise today.
Old wisdom — “everything on the plate should be finished”
No, never force-feed either the self or the children. In fact, ‘clean your plate’ is not the best message for healthy food habits. It is normal for children or even adults to not like certain foods. Besides, children have a natural mechanism that limits their food and energy intake to what they actually need. If adults force children to eat all their food at a meal, use food as a reward this natural regulatory mechanism can be destroyed. It is better to teach them to serve right, and learn portion control right from the beginning — so that they only plate the amount they feel they can finish.
The best approach is to give your children a selection of healthful and nutritious foods, let them eat what they want, and don’t try to force them to eat any more. In fact forcing them to eat some foods may just put them off those foods. Be flexible. If your children refuse to eat green and red bell peppers, try using pineapple chunks instead. Pineapple provides vitamin C like the peppers do and adds a fun twist to the dish too. With adults too, cleaning up plates (sometimes even your children’s plates) can just pile up additional, unnecessary calories. So refrain from that and feed the extra to a stray dog instead.
3. Don’t just preach, be a role model
Talking to children without patronising or sermonising is important. Believe in being a role model for your children even when it comes to eating right. Enjoy milk with your children every morning –not only does this teach them that milk is sacrosanct; it does your body good too! Also jump-start your day with a healthy breakfast together. This will get them into the habit of giving this meal the importance it deserves.
Similarly it always works better if you work as a team. Discuss, educate (without preaching) and keep enough healthy yet tasty options available. And together, make a conscious effort to only buy fresh food.
Try these tricks.
Talk to them about healthy alternatives to cookies, burgers and chips and always make sure that there are enough healthy snacking options available at home always, in easily accessible positions.
Take their help in putting healthy, tasty snacks — carrot sticks, apple slices — into re-sealable containers so that they are aware of what all is available and kept where. By doing this, their tastes will naturally get more oriented towards healthier foodstuffs. Soon you’ll find them munching on an apple or a carrot, or drinking healthier beverages more than any junk options.
Plant a small garden where together you can harvest fresh vegetables and herbs along with me and take really good care of them.
4. Cook together
When it comes to healthy eating and family meals, involve your kids in the preparation, always help. They are more likely to eat it if they help fix it. Here are two ideas to get kids involved.
Start simple — you don’t have to wait till kids are old enough to fix the entire meal. Even younger children can help with simple steps like washing, pouring, mixing, spreading, etc.
Assign a night Let each family member pick a night of the week to plan and help prepare the meal.
5. Tame the sweet tooth
Try to steer them towards healthier desserts. Use the natural sweetness of fruits to the best advantage. Keep them ready and chilled so that you can serve them quickly after meals just as the craving for something sweet strikes. Also try to make these fruit desserts to kill two birds with one stone (meaning get both nutrition and taste).
1. Make one loaf of banana bread every week without fail and serve after dinner or at snack time.
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and spray the loaf tin with non-stick cooking spray. Take 2 mashed bananas, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla essence, ½ cup sugar, a dash of salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of skimmed milk and mix gently. Then stir in ¾ cup of maida (plain white flour) and bake about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. You can also add nuts if your kids are okay with them.
2. Turn apples into a delightful dessert that your family will love.
Core apples and peel the top third; place it in a baking dish. Combine raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar in a small bowl. Fill the centre of each apple and dot with ½ teaspoon butter each. Make a glaze with water and lemon juice, and pour over apples. Cover and bake at 190°C (375°F) for 45 minutes.
Kavita Devgan is a Dietician, Health Writer and the author of three books: Ultimate Grandmother Hacks, Don’t Diet and the most recent Fix it With Food