Simple Switches to Help you and your Kids to Eat more Healthily
Kevin Marshall | 28 June 2018
As a single parent
you are unlikely to have the time…
An awful lot of us want to lose weight and be healthier generally, but it can be very hard. Diet and exercise is all very well, but it can be difficult to work out what you are meant to be eating. Are fats good or bad? Carbs? How much protein should be in each meal? And it gets even harder when you are trying to get your kids to eat healthily too.
After school drop-offs and pick-ups, chasing the kids to do their homework and trying to keep them clean (on top of working all day) it is hard to find the energy to make something healthy and then talk your children into eating it. We all want our kids to eat healthy meals and snacks, but it’s sometimes very hard.
As a single parent you are unlikely to have the time to learn a bunch of new recipes or completely swap how you cook to be super healthy – and thinking that you can (or that your kids will eat it) probably isn’t realistic.
What you can do, and do quite easily, is find substitutes for some of the techniques and ingredients you use when you cook at home. You won’t see multiple kilos dropping off every week (unless you take up an intense exercise regimen), but you will be healthier in terms of cholesterol and heart health, and quite possibly lose weight more slowly – and keep it off. Your children also won’t have to get used to new tasting food and they will have their nutritional needs met.
Different cuisines will tend to use different ingredients, so it is difficult to find substitutes that will apply to all of the cultures represented in HelloFresh’s Australian food history timeline. However, here are some more common changes you can make to your cooking, baking and mixing to ensure that your food is that bit healthier, without sacrificing the flavour.
Use Fresh Ingredients
Fresh food (in particular meats, fruits and vegetables) will be better for you than food that is full of preservatives. Apart from the added chemicals in tinned and packaged foods, they tend to be a lot higher in fats and salts than fresh options. Dried fruits are also full of sugar – a dried apricot, for example, has the same amount of sugar as a fresh one but you will eat far more of them at a time as a snack – or your kids will.
There’s nothing wrong with using, for example, sun-dried tomatoes in cooking, as long as you remember that each one has all of the nutrition (and sugar) as a fresh tomato. On the whole it’s a lot easier to monitor intake if you stick to fresh ingredients, so that you get a better idea of how much you are using.
Find Alternatives to Frying
Fried foods like sausages, eggs, bacon and steaks are delicious, and a great way to get nutrients into the kids. However, frying tends to add extra fats to your food. Even when you use non-stick pans, foods like bacon are still fried in their own fat so you eat more fat than you need to.
Making a few swaps with how you prepare breakfast can save you from a lot of fats, particularly the saturated fats that are prevalent in meat and dairy products. Eggs can be boiled or poached, rather than fried or scrambled, and bacon can actually be baked in your oven. Steaks and sausages are best grilled, preferably on a BBQ – this lets excess fat drip down rather than be reabsorbed into the meat.
Soups are your Friend
In winter the temptation is to eat big, hot, hearty meals. The problem with that is these dinners are often full of fats and carbs. Making soups instead will leave you satisfied, full and healthier. You will also be able to get several meals throughout the week out of the one soup.
Meals like a pumpkin soup are high in fibre and other essential nutrients, while limiting the amounts of fat and carbohydrate you consume. You can even add meat to the recipe if you need some more protein – chunks of chicken breast are delicious in soup.
Soups are also usually really easy to make, and they will be warm and filing for the kids after a cold afternoon at sports practice. The ingredients tend to be cheap as well, especially if you make things like a leek and potato soup!
Switch from White Flour
When you and your kids bake you can make your creation healthier by using substitutes for white flour. If you don’t want the taste to change, wholemeal flour will be an easy swap to make. While this won’t reduce the calorie content of your baking, it will add more nutrients, including fibre which helps to keep you feeling full for longer.
The swap should also apply to bread and pasta that you buy from the store as well as what you make yourself. Wholemeal and especially wholegrain is what you’re looking for, with the lower glycaemic index of wholegrain breads fantastic for giving you lasting energy. Spelt is also a good option for pasta.
If you use rice and rice based foods as your staple source of energy, then brown, red or black rice rather than white should be your go-to food.
Use No-Fat or Low-Fat Milk
Reducing the amount of fat you consume through milk is an easy way to have less fat generally throughout the day without sacrificing other nutrients. Most light milks are identical nutritionally to full cream (except for the fat content), so you don’t miss out on protein or any vitamins by swapping.
You will probably be able to tell the difference in taste when you have a glass or milk in your cereal, but in baking and cooking you are unlikely to notice – and although the kids might claim they do if you tell them you’ve swapped milks, they won’t if you just say nothing.
So there you go – a few simple swaps in how you cook (and in some cases what you cook) can help you and your family to eat more healthily without having to make any drastic lifestyle changes!
While some of these swaps may change the flavour of your food to the point where it is just noticeable, it shouldn’t be that big of a shift – and although we all know that that doesn’t mean the kids won’t complain at first, they will get used to it quickly. So make some simple changes to be healthier without sacrificing more time or the tastes you all love!
Kevin Marshall is in Melbourne, Australia. Kevin comes originally from London and he has been living in Australia for 4 and half years.
Being interested in food from young age, he started writing and reading several food columns and small stories online.
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