We consume at least 1000 main meals per year. Hopefully most of them are with the rest of your family, which means you have at least a 1000 chances each year to enjoy a meal or give food the opportunity to contribute to your health. Maybe if you think about this it will make sense why every family menu needs a slight makeover.
IT ALL STARTS AT THE BEGINNING
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. A very old saying which highlights a very simple and important message; you need to make sure that you do not overindulge at dinner time. We tend to make dinner our “large” meal for the day because that is when families can sit around a table together and enjoy each other’s company. This should never change, but what you serve for dinner can maybe lend to a lighter meal. Lighter does not always mean smaller.
WHAT NOT TO INCLUDE ON YOU PLATE FOR DINNER
This looks like a really healthy meal that is very easy and quick to prepare. But we cannot stop there. If you look at the nutrients on the plate there’s: carbohydrates (pasta), some veggies (cherry tomatoes) and a healthy fat source (olives). This plates unfortunately needs a makeover.
- Add a lean protein like chicken
- Half the portion of pasta
- Add a green salad or vegetables
This will be how your plate look after the makeover!
THE FAMILY MENU
The same principles that you apply to a plate applies to each dish you place on the table. Make sure of the following things while you are planning or preparing meals:
- There must be at least two veggies on the table for each meat dish (this will prevent you from cooking too much food and prevent the temptation to eat too much)
- The two veggies you serve must be different colours.
- Only one starchy dish per meal (potatoes, pasta, rice and pumpkin will count as starches)
- All the starches must be high in fibre (brown rice, high fibre pasta or whole-wheat wraps)
- Never serve soda drinks or juice with any meals. Place only a jug of water on the table.
- If you plan to serve dessert, warn the family and encourage them not to go for a second helping in this case.
- Try to determine the pace everyone is eating at. If parents eat very fast, kids can quickly adopt this habit. This will normally result in a person eating more than they should because you stomach takes some time to send the message to your brain that it is full. When you eat slower you give your stomach some time to warn you.
- Place smaller spoons in the bowls to dish up with. People tend to dish up without concentrating, if the spoon is smaller they will most likely anyway stop after two spoons.
You know what your family favourites are and what they love. Never refuse them what they love, but definitely encourage them to accompany the favourite, warm, creamy lasagne with a salad instead of a white bread roll. The reason for eating is to feel fuller for longer and keep our bodies healthy, not to see with how much bad food we can fill our stomach with just to eat again in an hours’ time.