“Does your family follow a healthy eating plan, too?” This question is often asked during the Q&A time when I speak to groups about my weight loss. As I shared earlier, we have been working to incorporate exercise into our family routine and it hasn’t been easy. The truth is that healthy eating has been a challenge as well. We needed to develop a healthy, realistic family eating plan.
Who we are
Dad — Allergic to peanuts, beans, soy. Wants to lose some weight but basically healthy.
Mom — Maintaining a 100 lb weight loss so very calorie contentious.
Daughter A — Healthy but lately has developed a lactose intolerance and upset stomach after eating eggs.
Daughter B — Ongoing minor health issues such as stomach aches. Maybe unknown food sensitivities or allergies?
Son A — Healthy. Has ADD.
Son B — Extremely picky eater. Behavior issues — have only tried minor diet changes that didn’t seem to affect behavior.
Son C — Rare genetic metabolic condition that requires a low protein diet.
Which plan to choose?
Given all these food restrictions and situations, I have done the worst possible thing a mom can do: nothing. I was overwhelmed. The thought of attempting to feed all these people a healthy, non-typical-American diet has been so overwhelming to me, and I have used it as an excuse. Just getting through the day with maintaining my weight and dealing with the low protein diet of our youngest son was all I could manage.
Excuse time is over. Our family can and will eat better.
A Healthy, Realistic Family Eating Plan is possible and it will not require a complete overhaul of our lives.
After looking over a wide variety of diets: Paleo, Daniel Plan, Gluten Free/Dairy Free, whole foods, vegetarian/vegan, organic, food elimination plans for allergies, and plans for kids with behavior issues, we decided to start with a basic clean eating diet.
The main rule: We are going to eliminate as much processed food from our diets as possible.
At this point, that is the only specification. Later, if we need to add on to this by eliminating gluten or other items, we can do so, but this is a really good starting place. We also didn’t want to start a Gluten Free diet, for example, only to move into eating processed, GF junk food. That’s just jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
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Which exceptions are exceptional?
Right away the questions started popping up. What about school lunches? What about the cake at the church party? What about the Sunday morning doughnut? (As our children’s ministry director, Miss Robin, says, “That’s holy food!”) What about all the food that is sitting in my cabinet right now, like canned soup, spaghetti sauce and boxes of crackers?
Here are 2 truths I have learned from my years of maintaining my weight loss:
- Too many exceptions lead to no plan at all.
- Too much restriction leads to no kind of life.
We opted to make some compromises. We decided to teach the kids to make healthy choices as much as possible and continue with school lunches. The food options aren’t the greatest, but with 4 kids eating school lunch, this is what is realistic for our family at this point in time. We will use up the food that we have already purchased, but we won’t buy more processed food, as is realistic. I will still purchase items like ketchup and mustard, but look for products with as few ingredients and added sugars and chemicals as possible. Balancing nutrition with cost is always a factor. My time is also a factor. I’m willing to put more time into cooking and preparing, but I won’t become an all-day chef.
For treats, we are going to make exceptions but try to keep them limited. Instead of a Sunday morning doughnut AND hot chocolate AND a piece of cake at the party in the afternoon, we told the kids they could choose one treat for the whole weekend — ideally once a week.
What has worked for feeding your family in a healthy way?
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