Cooking healthy meals at home can be a great step in moving towards a healthier lifestyle. However, cooking two meals, one for you and one for your family, can be utterly exhausting. We often hear the question “Is a bariatric diet healthy for the whole family?”. The answer is yes, with a few modifications, your meal plan can fit the needs of your entire family and will help to significantly decrease stress and time spent in the kitchen.
-Lean proteins are a healthy option for everyone! Meats high in saturated fat increase your risk of heart disease. High fat proteins include: hot dogs, salami, prime rib, 80/20 ground beef, etc. Use turkey products to resemble the items your family ate previously, for example, use 90% lean ground turkey to make hamburger patties instead of beef. You will cut the fat and calories without your family noticing a difference!
-Non-starchy vegetables carry the most nutrients and are great to incorporate in all diets. Non-starchy vegetables include: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, greens (collard, kale, mustard, or turnip), leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peppers, radish, salad greens, sauerkraut, spinach, snow peas, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Incorporate 1 serving of non-starchy vegetables with every meal to increase the nutrients your family is receiving. Try hiding vegetables in meals, like mini meatloaves. Using a muffin tin, combine ground turkey, black beans, finely chopped onion/bell peppers, with taco seasoning. Top the meatloaf with salsa and your children will forget they don’t like vegetables after this flavor packed dish!
-Children need more carbohydrates. Not in excess, but children need more carbohydrates than adults for energy. However, carbohydrates can be found in many forms and do not always have to be in the form of a starch. For example: serving a fruit with your meal can be a great way to add carbohydrates and essential nutrients to your children’s meals. Starches can also be accetable to have in your child’s diet. However, we suggest making a starch that you can also make a mock version for yourself. For example, brown rice for your children and cauliflower rice for you. This allows you to make 1 meal with only 1 food item to have to substitute. Another example includes whole grain pasta for your children and spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for you!
-Focus on healthy fluids for the family. Water is always a great option for everyone! If you are not a water fan or wanting a little extra flavor for your family but want to skip the sugar subsistutes, try adding fresh fruit to flavor up your water. Strawberry-lemon infused water makes a great hydrating fluid option. Avoid purchasing sodas, sweet teas, or juices. 1 soda per day can lead to a 10 lb weight gain over the course of a year. Regardless of calories needs, consuming sodas do not contribute to a healthy diet and can lead to a very addictive habit.
Changing your lifestyle can be challenging but instilling healthy eating behavior habits in your children’s lives will impact their health and weight forever.