You’re on a specific eating plan. You husband says he “doesn’t like those foods”. The twins are in a “we only eat things that are orange” phase. The baby is just graduating from purees.
So mealtime is a disaster. You feel like a short order cook – preparing three plus versions of dinner to suit your family’s individual whims.
Exhausting, right? (Not to mention all those dishes in the sink!) And If you keep up at this pace, you’re going to burn out, wave the white flag of surrender, and go back to the old way – meals that keep everyone happy, but are not optimized for your health.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can reclaim saner meals while sticking to your eating plan.
Make one meal that suits your needs and expect the rest of your family fall in line. Period.
That sounds harsh. It’s not. Remember when we said what’s good for you is good for your family? It is. You need to get to your optimal health not only for your sake, but for your family’s sake. And part of that rests upon the foods you eat.
As you embark on this new way of eating, you need to remove roadblocks like hectic meal prep. Preparing custom meals for each individual is stressful and time consuming. Here are four steps to clear the roadblocks and set you up for success:
Set the rules. Explain the shift and why you are doing this. Lay out the expectations (you don’t have to clean your plate, but you do have to eat three bites, for example) and what meals will look like going forward.
Set your attitude. You don’t want to be a tyrant, but you do want to be firm. And of course, positive – both in what you are doing for your family and what you are doing for yourself. (No degrading self-talk!)
Set a course. Make a plan that works for your family. Maybe it’s a graduated plan to ease your family into the new order, or a meal plan so your family can anticipate what they will be eating.
Set some goals. Your family will have different hurdles, dependent upon personalities and the ages of your kids. But setting goals can be something everyone can benefit from. (Maybe it’s getting through five meals a week without whining or complaining and your family gets to go to a movie together.)
And a few practical “game-time” tactics that can help:
Introduce new foods one at a time. Serve a new vegetable with your favorite protein at a meal. Replace a favorite snack with a similar alternative. Perhaps granola bars are your go-to. Why not make the switch to a homemade trail mix with GF/DF chocolate chips?
Have a “buffet” dinner. Serve meals where people can make their own plates. Set up a salad buffet with different ingredients and let your family fill their own plates with the things they like. An omelette bar is another great way to pick and choose the meat and veggies of your choice. You can do the same with tacos or bowl-type dinners.
Capitalize on favorites. Does your family love blueberries? Find main dish dinner recipes that include the things they already love. (Berries aren’t just for snacking and smoothies!)
Check out our “Eat Well to Live Well” eBook, which outlines eating guidelines and more helpful tips for making your new eating habits a success.