The Thriver’s Guide to Feed your Active Family Well!
Feeding the Family well balanced and nutritional, meals is always the intention. You have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish, and for the most part, it goes well.
Life happens, you get busy, you get tired.
You meant to sit down and plan, but the kids are hungry and there is still so much to do! Besides, with all that information, who knows where to start? Sometimes, maybe too often, you just give in to the Cheetos and pop tart snacking allowances. Let’s face it - keeping your family healthy sometimes seem like the super-parent feat of the Century! A challenge for only the very well informed, calm and collected. You’ll try again soon.
Enter our Cheat Sheet (don’t worry, you can take all the credit!) that is here to make your Family meal planning easy and most of all, quick.
Challenge 1 - Where to Start?
So many trends! We are surrounded by well-meaning guru’s with new advice and to get to the point seems really possible and plausible until you start looking and researching. How will you really know what is best for your Family? Gluten-free? Sugar-free? Smoothie bowls or … what’s next? Relax. Your goal here is not to make homemade, all natural, larabars and colorful mason jar salads (Are those still a thing?)
Although we all agree that would add the ‘cool’ factor, the focus should be on what works for YOUR Family. Get creative when you can, and by all means, snap a photograph and stick it on Instagram ever so often. For the most part, though, use your creative skills in finding new ways to increase the health and nutrition in every snack and meal.
The Focus - Think Basics
Figure out the needs of your family. Sure enough, if there is a medical reason for cutting out gluten, dairy or anything else, then do the proper research and make the necessary changes. Medical professionals and nutrition experts will be able to help you streamline the process.
In this article, however, we are addressing relatively normal nutritional needs, and you will be able to tell best based on preference and the reaction of your loved ones to certain foods. Don’t get caught up in a whirlwind trend and find that it’s not suited to your lifestyle and health needs.
Decide which basic changes you can make, for instance:
- Switching from refined foods to whole
- Limiting sugar
- Including more fresh and organic food
- If you find what you can do with your budget and family’s tastes and needs, that’s a great start.
Challenge 2 - Introducing New Foods
Whether you have fussy eaters in the house, or not, switching from refined and processed foods to the opposite will not be a popular concept if you do it all at once. Adding this kind of stress to your life is just insane! Who needs sulking people living around you, when you also agree with them - all this new food you bought for the entire week SUCK!... Let’s order pizza.
It takes time to get used to new tastes, textures, and routines. When everything familiar is gone all at once, there is bound to be resistance and conflict.
The Focus - Its an Introduction, not an Invasion!
We are not talking one change at a time here, that would take ages. Rather, be clever about making those changes. Here are some suggestions (none of which are based on any specific dietary recommendations):
Introducing new produce in a side dish as opposed to an entirely new main meal, for instance, gets everyone subtly used to new tastes and textures. You can gradually increase new ingredients and as you figure out what works you will be able to create new family favorites.
If whole grains are what you are trying to introduce, Another suggestion is mixing brown rice, lentils or quinoa into the white rice, a little more at a time until you find a good ratio or can switch over altogether.
Cauliflower rice and spiralized vegetables for pasta are also popular options, but really not the same. Try and flavor it to your Family’s taste, try using new spice combinations or flavored butter in moderation. Don’t present it as a permanent replacement, but rather an experiment on its own. Create something new and make it tasty!
Thin slivers of raw veggies in the salad will help everyone get used to is, and it looks appealing too! Slivered beetroot, carrots and celery with corn, for instance, makes for a colorful salad. Play around with flavourful spices or dressings.
Slowly eliminate available unhealthy options and replace with good ones. Keep plenty of fresh fruit, some dried, unsalted nuts, and healthy drinks.
Are you excited yet? Now for reality:
Challenge 3 - Finding Time to Plan AND prepare!
The above sounds like a lot of effort and time commitment. And as mentioned already, this is where it falls apart.
When life gets busy, all best intentions go out the window. Meal planning? Another thing to add to the list of things to do? Maybe not. Rushing off to the shop because it is the time to do so. Falling back on what you know because it doesn’t require much thinking. These are the intention killers. It’s normal and understandable. This is life. Change is hard.
The Focus - Keep it Simple
Breathe, think. Dedicate one hour, in a relaxed setting. Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and put the above together. Take a pen, paper, let’s make a list:
- What already works
Take stock of what you have at hand that will work going forward. A measure of familiarity and routine ensures that you won’t feel overwhelmed. It will also give you a sense of accomplishment, this won’t be hard! Use what works for you as the basis going forward.
Add here what you’d like to remove from your life as well, or use as an occasional treat.
- What you’d like to try
List them all, but introduce only a few changes at a time. Sometime in the future, you can do this exercise again, and re-evaluate your progress using this list as your starting point. Start with replacing the things you plan to remove or phase out.
Now that you know what you’d like to add, search for specific recipes that you can try. From the results, you will be able to tell what your family will likely approve of. This may also add some more new things to your shopping list as you find new recipes, and see how it can work in your lifestyle.
- How this will change your shopping list.
Shopping lists are a must - at least until you have found a new routine that works. You’d be surprised how adaptable you become and how mindless healthier nutrition can become the norm.
Keep in mind that you won’t be buying bulk of anything new. For instance, if quinoa is consistently not a hit, you don’t want a lot of it left in your pantry. So try small quantities first. This allows for smaller quantities of other new things, and before long, you will have figured out what your new basic shopping trip will include.
This is an ongoing experiment, just have fun and decide to get excited about changing things up! There is sure to be delicious healthier options, and before you know it you will want to try the smoothie bowls and salad jars because that is what you will have on hand.
4. Prepping hacks
Analyze whether your new ingredients will really take up more of your time. It doesn’t need to, Fortunately, we live in a time and health-conscious society, and things that may seem more time consuming, really shouldn’t be.
Meal planning can also be easier than it seems, so check out articles that detail the hacks and beginner tips. Here are a few:
- Frozen vegetables are your friends! Gone are the days when all nutrients are leached out by the process. Technology has improved!
- If frozen veggies are not your thing, buy readily sliced, chopped or spiralized produce.
- Sheet pan and slow cooker meals are great options for the bulk of the week.
- Overnight oat is a trend for a reason. Nutritious, quick and easy. Enough said!
- Be savvy - some products are marketed as healthy, but are not. Always read the labels of new products you plan to try.
Thrive Approved Workout Nutrition
“We offer smoothie with Orgain (organic) protein, or Top Trainer Elite Pro (Grass Fed Whey Protein that includes Amino Acids for recovery). We only use 100% crushed fruit, so no added sugar in our smoothies.
We also have Orgain ready to drink shakes in the cooler, including Vegan options.
For bars and grab and go, we offer a great selection of Quest, Lenny, and Larry (Vegan), Ostrim (Ostrich meat jerky).
We also have a full line of Top Trainer supplements. For living better, losing weight, and increasing your workout performance.
All the products we choose are to aid in the workout satisfaction and success. Connecting the nutrition products with the exercise routine is what maximizes our members' efforts. We are careful to choose products that taste great, but that also help (and not harm) all the hard work they put in."
Celese Stevens - Thrive Oak Harbor
Check out your Thrive branch to see similar options, offered with the same integrity!
Have you got any practical tips to share with your fellow Thrivers? Please comment below!