Posted in Healthy Eating

Family Meal Time Means Better Health - By Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, author and Certified Wellcoach®. Gretchen has worked with hundreds of clients in her own private nutrition practice since 2002, providing nutrition and wellness coaching in the areas of diabetes, weight management, food sensitivities, and general wellness. Gretchen provides lectures and workshops on a variety of nutrition topics to corporate and community groups.  She is the author of the "The Everything Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd ed.," and "The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Prediabetes".  If you would like to learn more about Gretchen, or read her newsletter or blog visit http://www.nutritionxpert.com.

 

Everyone knows the health risks of eating junk food or fast food.  Yet many people do not know how to start changing their habits in order to eat healthier.  One troubling American trend is the fact that many people don’t cook or eat at home anymore.  There no longer seems to be a family meal time.

 

For many very busy people, home cooked meals have been replaced with fast food and take-out foods. Our schedules are so packed; we no longer have the time to cook.  This has become so entrenched in our daily routine that the thought of preparing a simple meals seems like an impossible task.   I have worked with many clients who literally consume ALL of their meals out, on the run, and never prepare a meal at home.  With so many sources of food available everywhere, at anytime, and in endless varieties, it’s easy to see how this could happen.  Yet, there are reasons why you may want to rethink how you get your meals.

 

Cooking or planning simple, prepared foods at home can help you get healthier, lighter, and have a bit more cash to spend on other things.  Home prepared foods generally have less calories and fat.  You are in control of how the food is made, what goes into it, and most importantly, how much is served.  Have you ever gone to a restaurant and been served a very large portion?  How many times have you consumed the entire portion?  Large portions mean more calories.  Unless you are taking half of that portion home, you are getting far more calories than you may realize.  Depending on how a dish is prepared, even a half portion can mean lots of extra calories.

 

When you eat out are you treating the meal as though it’s a special occasion?  A lot of people look at it this way.  Sometimes dining out is a special occasion, and a chance to order something that you may not normally eat.  However, those who eat out often need to ditch the “special occasion” mentality or weight gain may be inevitable.  The temptation to sample the bread basket, add fried foods, large drinks or high calorie appetizers to the meal is just too easy when you order out.

 

A side benefit of eating at home:  more family time together and the chance to teach your children (or significant other) healthy eating habits.  Families who eat on the run all of the time lose out on quality time to communicate with one another about school, work or the day’s events.  Eating meals together as a family is an opportunity to set a positive example, while getting the benefits of healthier meals.

 

You don’t need to have special cooking skills to put together healthier meals at home.  Here are a few examples of how to start:

 

•Have breakfast at home instead of the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich out.  A bowl of cereal with low fat milk or fresh fruit with yogurt can help you start your day.

 

•Brown bag your lunch instead of getting fast food or take-out every day. 

 

•For dinner, prepare simple meals once and make enough to have leftovers at another meal.  Grilled or broiled chicken, fish, or lean meat with a potato or whole grain pasta and steamed vegetables, takes less than 30 minutes to make.

 

•Cook and plan meals ahead for the week to save time.

 

•Use the convenience of a crock pot, and you will come home to hot, healthy meals at night that took just minutes to put together.

 

Short on ideas for what to make for dinner?  Buy a cookbook for slow cookers or visit websites that feature healthy recipes to see what’s out there.  A little bit of time and a few preparations can make family mealtime a reality.  The shift to more food from home could mean better health, less weight, and more time together with loved ones!

 

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, author and Certified Wellcoach®. Gretchen has worked with hundreds of clients in her own private nutrition practice since 2002, providing nutrition and wellness coaching in the areas of diabetes, weight management, food sensitivities, and general wellness. Gretchen provides lectures and workshops on a variety of nutrition topics to corporate and community groups.  She is the author of the "Pre-Diabetes: Your Second Chance at Health," and "The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Prediabetes".  If you would like to learn more about Gretchen, or read her newsletter visit http://www.nutritionxpert.com.

 

This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit gailkasper.com.