Ask the Expert
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how I continue to provide my family with healthy meals during the summer months when the heat and humidity can make me want to avoid the kitchen. I received a few comments in response, which were all similar–how important it is to make time for family meals. These comments got me thinking about my own family and how our time spent at dinner is key to both our healthy lifestyle and our connection with each other.
While it might be easier to order take-out or have something delivered, I think we’d all agree it’s not the more nutritious option. Preparing a meal allows you to control fat and sodium content as well as add more fruits and vegetables to the recipe. An added benefit is the cost savings of making something yourself in comparison with purchasing something ready-made.
If you make dinnertime a family affair with everyone helping to prepare it, you’ll also find your kids are more likely to eat those healthier options. Plus, it’s a great way to start healthy habits. Show your children how to prepare fruits and vegetables or how to use better cooking options (baking, steaming, etc.).
Family meal time is also a great way for everyone in the family to touch base. My kids have told me that many of their friends never eat dinner with their families and I think that’s sad. In our house we use this time to find out how our day has gone, if there’s anything new happening or just to reconnect. I understand how busy life can get and there are certainly evenings where sports practices or work travel keeps us from eating together, but I do make an effort to have family dinner on a regular basis. Honestly, as the kids get older it’s the one time during the day when we’re all in one place at one time.
So, I suggest we all take the advice from my readers’ comments and try to incorporate some family meal time into our schedules. I’m including a link to our recipe database to provide you with some healthy meal ideas you can try. Enjoy!
Have you ever come back from vacation feeling sluggish? Or how about finding your clothes are a bit tighter than before you went away? I have and I chalk it up to overindulging on foods I don’t normally consume.
Let’s face it–vacations are for letting loose, enjoying yourself and having fun. Unfortunately, depending on your destination, they can also mean diet and nutrition danger zones. Ever take a cruise where there is food everywhere, all the time?? And I’m not talking about the low calorie, high fiber, nutritious variety either. If you’re not careful you might end up coming ashore carrying an extra 5 or so pounds by the end of your voyage. We all need to get away so I certainly don’t advocate avoiding the places we like to go or doing the things we like to do. Instead, I’ll share my own strategies on how to enjoy your time away and still maintain a healthy diet.
First of all, I tell myself ahead of time that I will allow myself to indulge, but within reason. Moderation is key! If I’m at the beach I will get those greasy (but delicious!) boardwalk French fries, but I only do it once during my stay. Same thing goes for desserts like ice cream. Enjoy, but don’t make it an every day thing. If you’re going someplace where all your meals will be ordered from a restaurant, look for healthy options. Big salads, fresh fruit and lean protein are your best bets. Choose grilled, baked or broiled cooking methods over fried or "sauteed." Check out all our tips on eating out to help you make the best selections.
Another way to keep feeling good while away is to stay active. Relaxing is great, but also make it a point to get up and do something. If you’re at the beach why not take a walk and look for seashells or go swimming? Snorkeling is a great choice if you’re vacationing on one of the islands. At the lake or in the mountains you can go hiking or canoeing–all you have to do is modify the activity to your destination. I personally take advantage of hotels that have gyms. I’ll typically get up early, go to the gym and get in an hour workout before breakfast.
One last piece of advice–keep the alcohol in check as well. Not only are those fruity, tropical drinks packed with empty calories, they’re also deceiving. One too many and you’ll spend the following day of your vacation nursing a hangover. Not fun!!
So enjoy your time away this summer, but do it wisely. You’ll find when you return home you won’t feel like you need a vacation to recuperate from your vacation.
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