Dieting While Cooking For Family

How can I keep on track when I have to cook every night for my family? Unlike most modern families, we have a family dinner every night!

It warms my heart to know that you and your family gather around the table every night to break bread. You’re soooo lucky to be able to do that! When you say you want to stay on track, I assume you mean you want to stay on a healthy diet, and possibly even lose weight. You wouldn’t be the first person to admit how difficult it is to sit at the dinner table and watch your family inhale gobs of foods. But don’t let this wonderful “Ozzie and Harriet” opportunity to be with your family bum you out. The trick is to get the whole family on the same healthy track.

The latest recommendation from the nutritional powers-that-be suggests that healthy Americans over the age of two should choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total dietary fat. That translates to keeping total fat intake to no more than 30 percent of a person’s total daily calories. In other words, one family can equal one dinner menu.

A healthy dinner menu should be rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruit (great as a dessert) — with some lean meat, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy foods. Saturated fat should play a small role. Begin to make your meals healthier by slowly phasing out your old dinner recipes or by making healthy ingredient substitutions. Substitute regular cheese with a light variety and switch from whole milk to low-fat milk. Start experimenting with one new, lower fat, healthy recipe each week. If you work new recipes into your family’s life gradually, you won’t create a mutiny. It won’t be long before you have 20 or 30 family-approved healthy recipes in your pocket. When you find a winner, copy the recipe into a notebook and you’ll have a great new family recipe collection.

Here are some tips to keep your portions light while the rest of the family chows down: Always prepare yourself a tossed salad with light dressing with your meals. This will help fill you up (for few calories) and slow your eating down.

Forget about dining “family style,” which covers the table with bowls and platters of food. It’s clearly more difficult to resist seconds when the chicken is winking at you from the table. Instead, keep the food in the kitchen and make dinner plates for each family. Bring ONLY the plates to the table. Those who want seconds can go to the kitchen and help themselves. (Consider this another way for them to get their daily exercise.) Here’s the best part of all: You won’t have to wash any serving dishes!

Keep up this fabulous family tradition!

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