Your Guide to eating well as a family. -Hacking Parenthood

Do you struggle to eat well, always seem to be feeling like you could eat better?

This is a guide to help you keep on track, tried and tested by me.

I live a vegan lifestyle but practice a Plant-based and wholefood diet. This means that I eat food that usually has one ingredient, at most, it will have five. This is a great way to keep track of your intake of processed foods, we’ll talk about processed food further down.

The first way to help you is that if you want to eat better, you have to start in the mind. You have to say to no to what you think is unhealthy and choose the better options. This helps your mind be confident in choosing the better foods. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Studies have shown that the more you say no, your brain starts to see better food as happy foods.

The second one you have to allow for is time and effort. Ok, it’s easy to open a pizza package and stick it in the oven for 20min. But, you can do a lot of food prep and cook in 20min. For example, my go-to dish is roast veg. I spend about 10min chopping some peppers, mushrooms, broccoli. Throw some oil on it and some herbs and stick it in the oven. I own if I want to eat well, I need to put in the effort. I say effort because you need to prepare and cook food. If you struggle with a busy schedule, either cut down on what you doing in the day or make bulk meals early in the week. If you have kids, let them help. They would love to learn to cook as well. Ask them to throw the peels in the bin, or wash some potatoes. Giving the kids an opportunity to help, at first this can be frustrating, but give them a chance to help and they will learn how to help. You can’t just expect them to be perfect helpers straight away.

If you want to eat healthily, you have to find the time, it is there, it’s just amongst the Facebooking and tv watching. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, I do the same thing. You do need to prioritise certain things in your life.  The healthily you eat, the more energy you have to share with you family and help them stay healthy. Make it fun when preparing food. Take photos of the kids and put them on Instagram or facebook and share the stress. Every mum/dad stresses about it.

Whatever you decide to have that day, more than half your plate should be full of vegetables or fruit. This is where your body gets its vitamins and minerals. Finishing off with a banana or other fruit helps that feeling of being full. Have you tried to just have a salad? Make a veg packed salad that’s not boring. Throw some beans in to help you feel full. Make it exciting. No one likes to just eat lettuce.

This is so, for breakfast as well. We are so ingrained to have cereal for breakfast. Big companies love this idea as they make so much money from cheap products that we believe are an important start to the day. They’re not, why not swap cereal for a quick banana and oat smoothie. Changing your mindset on what food looks like in different parts of the day helps you change what you eat. In many countries, breakfast consists of rice and veg. I used to think that eating differently for breakfast was weird. Now I believe that eating something like cereal for breakfast is not helpful to creating a great start to the day.

Get a recipe book out, pick something and make it. This is a great way to learn to cook. Once you’ve made a bunch of meals. You are sorted for most of the days. Have a main meal like roast veg or salad. Then when you want to mix it up, do a recipe. Be flexible with the ingredients. They are guidelines. You’re not baking cakes.

Cakes. Yes, I do have cake sometimes. The only time I get to eat cake is when I bake my own. This way I know what’s in it. Iv made the effort and I don’t eat much cake. I tend to slice the cake and freeze the pieces so that it lasts longer. Warm cake is the best. Finding recipes that use ingredients like coconut sugar, reduces your intake of processed sugars.

Things like chocolates, sweets, cans of soda are loaded with sugar. These are empty calories and don’t give your body any nutritional value. Eating foods with sugar in gives you a quick high and then a sharp low, making you grab another one straight away. This is not helpful when trying to stay healthy.

Sugar is addictive, swap sugary foods for things like raisins, dates, bananas. This means as well as getting that sweet hit that you crave. You also get the vitamins and minerals that come from eating whole foods. Getting used to saying no to the sugar hit gets easier and easier. You not saying no to the sweet hit, you’re just changing to a healthier sweet hit.

Studies show that when sugar is given to children, their brains react the same way as when adults are given cocaine. This is shocking to think we are over stimulating their little brains just because it’s easy to give them a sweet. Let’s also not get confused with fruit and sweets. Fruit is paired with fibre, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Sweets are just sugar. Many families who eat a whole food plant based raw diet, thrive on the fruit they eat.

Salt is so easy to go overboard, like when going out for dinner, it hides in things like gravy, dressings and sauces. Ask for them to be put on the side so you can choose how much you want. When cooking for yourself, you never really need more than a pinch of salt. If you love adding salt to everything l, then try cutting down slowly. Teach your tastebuds how to survive without salt. As the days past your body learns to only want a little bit of salt.

Things like tomatoes are great to eat when craving salt. Try raw tomatoes on their own. Start tasting the flavours of the food we eat without having to add salt or other sauces.

Calcium

The best way to gain calcium is by eating loads of green veg especially the leafy kind. Things like kale, spinach, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, collard green, green beans.

Beans are also a good source of calcium. Beans like butter, pinto, black.

Fibre

Fibre keeps your body regular and feeling fine. You get fibre from all fruit and veg and whole grain. So choosing things like whole grain pasta, whole grain bread.Stay away from white bread, pastry and pasta as these have the fibre removed and becomes an empty calorie.

Stick with colour and you will be fine. Be inspired by the rainbow. This is what your body needs.

Protein

Many people have this idea that all we should really be eating is protein. This is not right. In fact, we only need about 68g to 102g of protein per average adult. This is not a lot.

The best source of protein comes from beans and pulses, nuts and soy. Research suggests we should be aiming to eat high-quality protein. You can’t get more high quality than plant based.

Water

Being dehydrated can reek havoc on your body. This can cause things like fatigue, headaches, low energy. Reminding ourselves to drink water as often as possible can be so beneficial to our bodies. Sometimes our bodies mistake hunger for thirst. So having a drink of water can help you not reach for that quick unhealthy snack.

Studies show that eating healthy food can help towards feeling less depressed and anxious. More children and adults suffer from depression and anxiety than ever before. This has a lot to do with the lifestyle we live. Eat well can help towards being better prepared for things like big changes, stress, illnesses. As a mum who eats well, we still get our fair share of colds and coughs. Which is expected when you are visiting other kids through groups and play dates. I do feel we recover faster due to eating well.

Studies have shown that eating well protects against ageing diseases, living longer and healthier. You need to invest now in your health, take it seriously as when you do get older. Your body starts to age, healthy eating slows this down dramatically. Helps you keep moving and enjoying life.

Staying away from processed food is key to staying healthy. This means when you go shopping, you can cut out most of the aisles in the shop. This way it will help you stick to eating whole and plant-based foods.

While changing your diet and lifestyle, it’s important to replace things that you remove from your diet. This stops you from feeling like you can’t do it as you missing out on your favourite foods. So if you feel like a pizza, why not buy some bases from the shop and add a bunch of veg on it. You will be surprised how amazing it taste. Giving yourself the chance to learn to love new foods. I used to never eat beans, but when I started choosing whole foods and plant based, I really started to open up to new flavours and textures. I was so used to what I liked and didn’t like, I never gave myself the chance, now I do, every day. So when you craving something unhealthy, think of alternatives. Craving chip shop chips, chop a bunch of potatoes, skin on and add some herbs and oil, put them in the oven. Don’t make life hard, make it easy. You will feel so much better afterwards for choosing the better option.

Think colour. Out eyes are drawn to bright colours, there is an innate reason for this. Our bodies crave to eat all the colours that are available. Once you start doing this your body thrives and it will thank you.

Go to dinner recipe.

Roast Veg Recipe

1 Onion

2 Peppers

box of mushrooms

2 Courgettes

1 Brocolli

1.5 potatoes per adult

Peel and chop the veg into chunks, throw them all in a baking tray with some olive oil, nutritional yeast (optional) and herbs. Put it in the oven at 180*C for 20-30min.

Peel(optional) and chop the potato into chunks and throw them into a pot with cold water, Bring to boil, then when they are soft. Remove the water, pour a dollop of olive oil into the pot and mash till smooth.

 

Salad

3 Tomatos

1/2 cucumber

Bag of lettuce

1 Avo

1 Red Pepper

1/3 Broccolli

Capers/sun dried tomatoes/artichokes (all optional based on preference)

Chop all the veg into small peices, mix in a bowl and serve.

Ice cream

3 Frozen bananas

1T Cocao Powder

Add to a food processor and mix till smoothe, serve and eat straight away.

Let me know what you think of this guide and whether you will try out some of the ideas?

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