Balancing a family and a healthy diet

When you’re watching your weight it’s tough if your partner and kids are still tucking into crisps, biscuits and other fattening foods. The main thing is not to let them undermine you — and then to get them on board with healthier eating too!

Take control

At the very least, ask your family to respect how important it is to you that you watch your portion sizes and make healthier choices for yourself. To force them to take you more seriously it’s better if you don’t eat “diet” meals, but just make subtle changes to family food, for example by putting a bit less food on your plate, or swapping some potatoes for salad.

A healthy diet for all!

Of course, it’s really best that you all eat healthily, but if your family is resistant, try to introduce the changes gradually. Why not start with these?

– Swapping to 50: 50 bread (white with 50% wholemeal flour)
– Trying oven chips instead of chip shop ones
– Having monounsaturated spread rather than butter
– Using Canderel in family desserts so you lower the calorie count (and you can tuck in too)!

Family meals

You can still have family favourites like shepherd’s pie and spag bol if you make then with lean mince, drain off excess fat and sneak in plenty of finely chopped veg. You can serve up pizzas too, but make your own using thinner bases, half fat cheese and plenty of tomato puree and veg toppings like sweetcorn and spinach. Try to steer away from processed meat products like sausages and use fresh unprocessed meat instead — cheaper cuts such as stewing steak for casseroles and chicken thigh meat for curries are fine!

Snack happy

Stock cupboards with healthier family snack options like fruit or nuts, and make crisps and chocolate an occasional treat. When you do buy them, opt for treat size chocolates bars and lighter, airier savoury snacks such as Quavers and French Fries which are lower in calories per bag than crisps.

Lunch box

If everyone is fed up of sandwiches, here are some healthy alternatives to try:

– Pasta salad. Mix together some cold boiled pasta with tinned salmon or tuna. Add some sweetcorn, chopped tomatoes and peppers, and mix with a little pesto.
– Potato and cheese salad. To make, chop some leftover waxy potatoes and mix with grated half fat Cheddar, coriander leaves and natural fromage frais.
– Pitta pocket filled with sliced boiled egg, a couple of teaspoons reduced fat mayonnaise and cucumber or cress.

A word of caution

Whilst low fat high fibre meals with plenty of fruit and veg are a great choice for adults and older children, don’t give too “healthy” a diet to toddlers as it won’t give them enough calories to thrive and may upset their digestive system. Under twos need full fat milk and pre-schoolers need a mix of fruit and veg, but only portions the size they could hold in their hand. Similarly toddlers shouldn’t always be given wholemeal bread and whole grain pasta – less fibrous white versions are important for this age group too.