You live with diabetes and want to improve your diet. Your spouse/partner/kid balks at eating “healthy” foods. You cook the family meals and are tired of preparing two different dinners each night so you give in most of the time and eat things you’d rather not. Here are a few ways to eat healthy when your family won’t.
My brother’s family comes over for dinner one night a week and I’ve learned that it’s hard to cook for a group when some people enjoy healthy foods and others refuse to eat them. My brother won’t eat anything that’s green unless it’s raw, for example. I’ll admit that sometimes I’m not feeling creative and “family dinner night” often means “cheat night” for me. But I have learned a few things that might help you too.
Ways to Eat Healthy When Your Family Won’t
1. Substitute one thing
You can cook a single meal that will satisfy everyone by cooking what “they” will like and then one extra thing for you.
- Make spaghetti and meatballs featuring whatever type of pasta your family loves. Cook zucchini noodles for yourself and top them with some of the meatballs and sauce. You’ll get extra points if you make the meatballs with at least some ground chicken or turkey instead of beef. Try Marinara Sauce with Red Lentils as your sauce. Note there’s a recipe for Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs all done in the Instant Pot® in The Diabetes Cookbook for Electric Pressure Cookers (shameless plug).
- Stir-fry some shrimp, chicken, or tofu with lots of vegetables like broccoli, carrots, onions, and peppers. Serve theirs with whatever type of rice they like and yours with cauliflower rice, brown rice, or shirataki noodles (affiliate link).
- Cook a meatloaf and serve it with green beans. They can have mashed potatoes while you eat mashed cauliflower or Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic. Try Creole Meatloaf or Chicken Apple Meatloaf with Tarragon Tomato Sauce for something different.
- Grill burgers and eat yours as a lettuce wrap instead of on a bun. Try Buffalo Chicken Burgers or terrify your family with Black Bean Burgers with Sriracha and Egg.
2. Eat the same meal, but watch your portion size
You can eat some of the high-carb foods your family likes, just watch your portion size and have some nonstarchy vegetables too. Know that each of these serving sizes contains about 15g carb:
- Beans: 1/3 cup
- Bread: 1 slice (1 ounce)
- Pasta (cooked): 1/2 cup
- Rice (cooked): 1/3 cup
- Starchy vegetables: 1/2 cup
3. Introduce new foods in creative ways
Nephew #2 didn’t know he liked broccoli until I steamed some and sprinkled a little bit of cheddar cheese on it. My niece discovered she loves zucchini after trying Roasted Zucchini Fries with Parmesan (I also cook asparagus the same way and she likes that too). Nephew #1 realized cauliflower isn’t that bad after he ate a variation of Roasted Cauliflower Gratin with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese. None of them will eat Brussels sprouts, however, no matter how delicious I make them. You win some, you lose some.
White Chicken Lasagna with Spaghetti Squash
4. Store healthy meals in the freezer
Any time you make a healthy soup, chili, or casserole, freeze some in single-serving containers. When your family is eating a meal that doesn’t fit with your plan, pull out one of the containers for yourself. Serve a salad to everyone. Vegetarian Chipotle Chili and White Chicken Lasagna with Spaghetti Squash both freeze well.
5. Teach someone else to cook the family meal
You cook a healthy meal for yourself and have someone else cook the family meal. Either they will discover the joy of cooking or they will hate doing it so much they will be much more willing to eat your healthy meals!