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My husband is the type who can eat anything he wants and not gain a pound. He generally loses weight over Thanksgiving weekend. I am not this type of person. I have to struggle to stay on track. It’s infuriating. It’s not fair, and despite all of it, I stay married to him. Seriously though, it is very hard to meet your fitness goals when you are sitting across the table from a man who wants to eat an entire pizza for dinner. Throw in two children, one of whom has severe food allergies, and you find yourself in a serious dinner dilemma. So, the question becomes, how do you feed your family when everyone has different dietary needs? The short answer, is plan.
The most important thing I have learned in my nutrition battle is to keep my goals in the forefront. It is very important to not lose track of what you are wanting to accomplish. When planning out meals for the week, which I find to be very helpful in keeping me on track, I stay focused on what I can eat and work around what I know my family will eat. For example, I know my kids and husband will eat tacos, so I fix taco meat (I make my own seasonings, so I don’t have to use prepackaged) and have the “fixings” on the side, so everyone can assemble their own. That way I can have mine on lettuce and keep my goals in line and ensure everyone else actually eats. All of this helps me stay focused, but I am also not preparing four different meals for everyone, or fighting with my kids about dinner.
Another way to ensure you are sticking to your goals and keeping everyone happy is meal prep. I have never been one to meal prep, but I hear from a lot of people that this works very well for them. I have issues with leftovers. It’s weird and a bit neurotic, but it’s true. So, I don’t meal prep. What I do though is make sure I have something on hand that I can whip together very quickly and easily to ensure I don’t grab something totally unhealthy. I have a lot of boiled eggs in my fridge, or I keep a bunch of fruit in the drawer, so I can grab that instead of the chips. This is key when our boys are running off to multiple practices a week, and we are running right along with them. They can eat their sandwiches and chips, and I am still on track with my own portable meal.
Dietary restrictions, or the lack thereof, can be a huge deal. As previously stated, my youngest son has severe food allergies to dairy and nuts, so most of my cooking must be dairy free. On the flip side of that, my oldest son is not much of a meat eater and gets most of his protein from dairy and peanut butter…. It’s a real struggle at our house. So, to ensure they are both fed well, and protecting my youngest son from life-threatening reactions can be a constant battle. For dinner, I have a rotating list of about eight dinners that both of my children can and will eat. These are dairy free and contain meat that my oldest doesn’t struggle with. I keep them on a bi-weekly rotation and can substitute things I need or take out things I don’t need in order to meet my goals, and again, I am not spending the entire night in the kitchen preparing meals for four different people.
When you are feeding a family with different dietary needs and restrictions it can be quite a mess. The best way to accomplish this is to keep it easy and simple, while making sure everyone has options. We keep it dairy free for my son, and allow me to work around the grains I don’t eat. However, my other son, who is the pickiest of them all and my husband, who wants all the junk food, are provided for with options for them. I’ve learned you can make anything in a healthy version, and keep everyone safe and happy. Your fitness goals don’t have to be demolished because of your family or your dinner time. Focus on what you want too, and don’t fall victim to serving everyone else and forgetting about you.
By: Amanda Stewart, CFL1 Trainer, Contributing writer
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