I get asked often if I feed the same dinner to my family that I eat for the night. The answer, in short, is yes. I don’t have any desire to make multiple dinners each evening plus I think it is good for my family (especially kids) to be exposed to healthy and different foods at a young age. I am very consistent in putting the same kinds of healthy foods in front of them every week in hopes that they will “latch on” soon. There are days it works and other days it doesn’t.

Our husbands are also a huge factor in what we prepare. Thankfully, my husband enjoys all the healthy foods I prepare and in fact, would prefer me to cook that way as opposed to unhealthy. I realize that not all husbands feel this way. I’ve found many times, though, husbands have a PERCEPTION about what “healthy food” tastes like and are really missing out on eating good foods because they THINK they know what it tastes like. I digress.

4 Ways to diversify family dinner to your healthy diet : www.claresmith.me

Here are 4 ways that I adjust my family’s meals that help us all meet our goals or be satisfied.  (Note: These are ways that work for ME and MY fitness and health goals. You have to figure out gets you to where you want to be. This will not work for every family or person!)

1.) Quantity

This is generally used in the case of my husband. He eats much larger portions to fill up. So instead of 1 chicken breast, he’ll eat 2. Instead of my palm full size of pasta or carbs, it’s his palm full size. I do the same thing with the kids. They generally have anywhere from 3-6 bites of a food they may not attack.

2.) Ratio

Similar to the quantity above, I change my ratios from my family. So instead of eating a big handful of homemade french fries or a big spoon full of mashed potatoes, I put a very small amount of those on my plate. Then I OVER add on the veggie and protein for the night. So my plate ratios will look a little different than their ratios.

3.) Condiments

I don’t use a lot of condiments because that usually means extra sugar and calories. My kids and hubby, however, can get away with it. For example, when I make sweet potatoes, I put nothing on them, while they add brown sugar and a bit of butter. They may have ranch to dip some chicken in or use sour cream with their chili. I also don’t use crackers in my soup. This doesn’t mean that I never use condiments though! I do enjoy BBQ sauce, shredded cheese, greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and different dressings. My rule of thumb is that I always try the food without the added flavors, and if I really feel it needs a kick, I’ll put no more than a tablespoon or two of the condiment on my plate. People can get into big trouble with the dips and condiments they use on their plate. Start inching it back!

4.) Beverage

Let’s not forget what we drink! I know a lot of families who have a huge glass of milk with their dinner, or a glass of iced tea, and even a glass of wine. My husband and kids usually drink milk with their dinner. I drink water.

I want to encourage you. We set the tone for meals in our house! We pave the way for what is perceived as “normal” for our kids in regards to eating! I know you feel that you are spinning your wheels figuring out healthy foods for everyone to eat, but keep doing it! What your kids are exposed to at an early age is so very important to what they consider normal. Keep at it mama!

What are ways you adjust your nightly meal to meet everyone’s goals and satisfaction?