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Family Meals - Eat Healthy Together!

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Do you run into resistance when you try to serve up healthier foods at mealtime? Healthy eating can be a challenge when you are cooking for others, especially if there are picky eaters in the family. If you or another family member has diabetes, making healthy food choices and controlling portions is a key part of managing the disease. However, all members of the family can benefit from eating balanced, nutritious meals. 

We know that it can be tough to juggle everybody’s likes, dislikes, and reluctance to trying healthy foods. But if you are the cook in your family, here are some tips and family-friendly meal ideas for you this month!

Diabetes & Family Support – It’s Important!

It’s important for you to take control of your health when you have diabetes. Following a healthy meal plan and increasing your activity level can help you control your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose. Your family members can help by supporting these lifestyle changes and efforts to control diabetes. It’s important for your family to understand their role and why it is important for you to take care of your diabetes. Open up the lines of communication with them and get everyone on board with being healthier!

Remember that if one person in your family has diabetes, everyone is at risk for developing diabetes. Healthy eating is one step your family members can take to decrease that risk. Becoming more active is another thing that they can do.

Try making some healthy changes together as a family. This could mean starting the tradition of a family walk after dinner each night, or adding a vegetable side dish at dinner every evening. For more information about preventing diabetes, take our Risk Test and learn more on Prevention at diabetes.org.

Myth Buster: Did you know the foods that are healthy for people with diabetes are also healthy for everyone else? There’s no need for a person with diabetes to feel alienated at the dinner table or to eat "special" diabetic foods. Healthy meals and snacks that focus on non-starchy vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats are good choices for the whole family. Learn more about the best food choices in the What Can I Eat? section on diabetes.org.

Benefits of Eating Together

With busy schedules, it’s not always easy to get everyone around the table for a meal. But the act of sitting down for meals as a family may have its own set of benefits. Meals are a great time for us to reconnect with our loved ones and to strengthen family bonds. Some research has also associated family meals with lower rates of substance abuse in teens, better academic performance, higher quality diets in children, and healthier weight in children. For parents, meals are also a good opportunity to teach children (especially younger children) basic communications skills and manners.

These are some great motivators to eat together more often. It can be good for the mental and physical health of the entire family – both children and adults. Weeknight dinners are a great opportunity to slow down and reconnect. Having family breakfasts or meals together on the weekends are also a great option!

Healthy Cooking – Get Everyone on Board

What does healthy cooking mean to you? Do you think of strict menus, steamed vegetables, and unseasoned chicken? Then we’ve got good news! Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bland and you don’t have to eat the same thing over and over. There are many healthy, yet flavorful, foods and recipes to choose from. You can enjoy these healthier foods with the whole family, and you will all benefit from the extra nutrition!

We have hundreds of recipes right here on Recipes for Healthy Living that are both nutritious and tasty. Below are a few dinner entrees that the entire family can enjoy. Feel free to browse our recipes for even more ideas!

Here are some more helpful tips to try as you get started with healthier cooking:

  • Start with small changes. You don’t have to make drastic changes to your cooking all at once. You might start by adding one or two healthier recipes into your weekly rotation.
  • If you have family members that squirm upon hearing that something is “healthy”, it might help to avoid framing these new dishes as such. In the end, if it tastes good, your family will probably eat it.
  • You could also start by adding a healthy side dish to dinner each night. For example, when serving up your staple cheeseburgers, serve them with a side of grilled asparagus. You could also add some fresh strawberries on the side as well.
  • Involve other family members in the process of planning meals for the week, shopping, or even cooking. Even young children can help you pick fresh herbs from their stems. Getting family members involved allows them to have a say in the menu. It also presents you with an opportunity to teach them about the best food choices. 
  • You may also be interested in this month’s meal makeover, where you’ll find healthy ingredients that you can swap in to make your favorite recipes a bit healthier.

Looking for more tips? You might be interested in our Diabetes Forecast Article: Healthy Eating for the Whole Family.

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