Question: My family has recently started working out 5 days a week. We and our kids do push-ups and sit-ups two nights a week and the other three nights we walk/run/jog for one to two miles. We just need to eat better and we always are on the run. Do you have any suggestions to help out meal planning?
Answer: Getting everyone to workout is a huge accomplishment and the fact that you and your husband are both training with your kids makes a terrific impact on them and their attitude towards fitness. The problem, as you have discovered, is you can’t out-train a bad diet. There are a few “tricks” which are helpful in getting a good grip on meals that are healthy, easy to prepare and taste good and some foods to avoid if you want to lose excess weight.
Breakfast is a wonderful way to start the day though too many people skip eating in favor of getting more sleep time. If you want more sleep time and your kids need it no matter how much they protest, go to bed at a set time even in the summer and wake at a set time as well. Having food within 45 minutes of waking is a good habit to establish in your children’s daily routines. Typically, eggs, whole wheat toast with fruit spread, or grits, and a couple of slices of turkey bacon are a standard selection but it’s not written in stone. If the usual breakfast foods don’t tantalize your taste buds, there’s nothing horrible about a eating a PBJ and drinking milk. Cold cereals, especially the sugar bomb type are not a good choice though. Perhaps it is better than not eating but barely. Sugary cereals tend to blow up blood sugar levels which, in turn, spike insulin levels which triggers a craving for more sugar. Fruit and yogurt are good breakfast substitutes as well. Fruit , like a banana or apple with peanut butter, only a teaspoon or so though, can be a good mid-morning snack.
Lunch could be a sandwich using whole wheat pita pockets. Since we are dealing with kids peanut butter crackers and milk could be a quick, easy mid-afternoon snack. Fruit is a great go to also,but it’s not always readily accepted by kids.
For your evening meals early in the week, chicken grilled Sunday is a good leftover main course along with garden fresh vegetables like green beans and zucchini. Get creative with vegetables and eat as much as possible. Since this is the South, avoid frying veggies though. The point here is to keep everyone well fueled and hydrated, making food selections that are lower on the glycemic index to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking.
Most of the starchy carbs should be consumed earlier in the day tapering off so the evening meal is primarily a protein source and vegetables. Make use of the crock pot year round with roasts, chicken or turkey. Your choice in the evening only has to be which vegetables to prepare.
Having meals at home as a family has wonderful family-building benefits as well. Work out together and eat together.
God bless and keep training,