Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Losing Weight With My Spouse - Healthy Family Meals

My husband and I came up with a weight loss compromise today that was really a hard time coming.  We both were in the best shape of our lives when we were dating just before we got married. We look so awesome and happy in our honeymoon picture. After we got married, we got out of shape - I blame comfort, happiness, baby weight gain, and injuries (and him a little but I'm sure that's mutual). We need each other's support but really have had a hard time agreeing on food choices that work for both of us.

Our compromise primarily involved dinner.  We agreed that the hardest part of staying on a reasonable diet is having to cook for the whole family - giving the kids what they need to eat while giving us healthy options without an excessive amount of effort.

We brainstormed and came up with several healthy, easy to make dinners for the whole family with easy substitutions (when needed) for us. The idea is that every dinner will have at least two of the following:  a vegetable side, a salad, and a fresh fruit.  We came up with some simple substitutions for us primarily for the entree - so the whole family will be eating basically the same meal.  Only our dish will be lower in calories and fat. 

We literally made a list and tacked it on the fridge and also typed up a grocery list so we can be sure to have the ingredients for these meals on hand week after week until we have our diets under control. 

Below is a partial list of the weekday dinners we came up with.  Obviously we can be more creative over the weekend when there's more time and less stress. 

The meals listed are for the kids with the adult substitutions in parentheses.  My kids love salad - even the toddler - I'm not sure if salads would be an option for all families.  I say give them what they like if it's healthy and present new foods too.  The drink for most of these is presumed to be skim milk for the kids and water or skim milk for the adults.
  • Whole wheat pancakes made with egg whites with fresh apples, pears or blueberries mixed in.  This one is one of our family's favorites - no vegetables or substitutions for this one though. 
  • Grilled hamburgers (Boca or turkey burgers) on whole wheat buns with salad and fruit.
  • Chicken sandwiches (faux vegetarian chicken for adults- actually delicious and not as scary as it sounds) on whole wheat buns with salad and fruit. 
  • Lean boneless pork chops baked with granny smith apples with a vegetable - no substitutions here - I will just exclude the butter that we normally add and maybe replace it with sugar-free applesauce so it isn't dry. This is great in the crock pot or oven.
  • Chicken baked with fat free Italian dressing, salad and vegetable on the side - no substitutions, just portion control.  Up until now, I used full-fat dressing - there's no difference in taste that I can tell.
  • Angel hair pasta (whole wheat for the adults) with salad and fruit, cheese optional for the kids.  I think the key here is cooking the regular pasta first, pulling it out and then throwing in the whole wheat pasta.  I haven't tried this yet but definitely don't have the patience to wait for two pots of water to boil.  Maybe the whole wheat needs to be cooked first....
  • Meatballs (turkey or Boca for adults) with marinara sauce, salad and fruit.
  • Canned soup (vegetarian chili for the adults), sandwiches (toast for adults), fruit.
  • Tacos:  ground beef (ground turkey or ground boca for adults) with salad and fruit (cheese at a minimum or missing for adults).  For this one, we would likely use low sodium tortilla chips instead of taco shells for the adults.  I am going to miss cheese. 
With a list tacked on the refrigerator that can grow when we add to it, we are armed with options so we don't panic and go get the Indian or Mexican carry-out instead of being able to manage dinner on stressful weekday nights.  We intend to have a variety of frozen vegetables on hand that can be easily microwaved if we don't have fresh vegetables to steam or the time to cook them.  Simplicity is our ally here and our only hope.

I think this will really be a great way to model healthy eating behaviors for our kids.  I am so excited that my husband is excited too.

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