Family health day

If only we had time to be more proactive about our food: to evaluate how we are feeling, what we are eating and how the two can be improved. Eating well requires some organization at the outset. You need to plan how you are going to get good foods into your body with as little effort as possible. The last thing you want is to be stressed out about eating, or to slave over a hot stove only to sit down exhausted and unable to appreciate the experience. It is a good idea to set aside a day to tackle the issues head on. If members of the family ask why they need to change their eating habits, explain that it is to make them stronger

and fitter, with clearer skin and loads more energy The aim of the family health day is to enjoy the time together, preparing food that is both delicious and nutritious, sorting out kitchen cupboards, throwing away out-of-date food and starting your healthy life on the right foot.

Evaluate your eating and drinking habits

Once you have set the date I suggest that a week or two before your health day. everyone should fill out a food and syraprom diary Take it with you to work or school. Children should try to keep a simple note of the food they sat at lunch and break times and to and from school. Don’t forget cups of Tea during the day and after-work drinks, Use the diaries to build up a picture of the food you are putting into your

body and the effect your eating habits are having on the way you feel. Remem ber, too, that food is a valuable preventive medicine a few simple changes now could save you years of worry and pain in the future. • Are you managing to eat five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables every day Are you forever grabbing biscuits and cups of tea to keep you going? • Do you always feel shattered

• Does indigestion plague your

• Do you often feel bloated:

• Is your child tetchy and unpredictable in mood, one minute hyperactive the next, slumped in front of the TV, unable to motivate bimself

It’s not just what you car that’s important, but also how you eat. Do you cat in front of the TV2 Is it possible for you to share your child’s eating times? Even if you cannot all eat together, perhaps because the children need to eat before adults are home from work, sitting down and spending a few minutes with them is a valuable activity. If you are cating your main meal later you could have a bowl of soup with them or some fruit.

Secing grown-ups dash around with no time to eat or eating a cake on the run tends to make children rush their food and not appreciate the importance of resting while you eat. Don’t get into the habit of finishing their food, if you are not eating with the children, you should not use your body as a waste bin. During the family health day, take the opportunity to sit down together to cat and enjoy your food

Shopping

Before planning the food you are going to eat during your family health day, think about your shopping habits. Do you rely on convenience meals? Do you frequently turn pasta because there is nothing else in the cupboards? • Many of us don’t like to stock up on vegetables and fruits because they go off before we imanage to eat them. But tomatoes, carrots, peppers, citrus fruit, apples and pears keep well in the refrigerator.

Leafy vegetables such as lettuces, spinach and rocker are the least way wend. Frawen weer los der er stordy, aby them no as spinach are useful standbys. . Would it be a good idea to organize a substantial weekly shop Many super- markets will deliver to your bome and can be accessed via the Internet. Even more than if you only ww this service for holy goods such as loo rolls, mineral water and canned beans can help reduce the stress of lugging shopping around

Does your supermarket or local shop sell organic produce? The more organi cally produced food you can incorporate into your family’s diet, the healthier you will all be

If members of your family suffer from bloating, look for live’ or bio yoghurts • that contain hifidus and acidophilus cultures. Eat the equivalent of a small pot every day, with fruit or breakfast cereals or as a savoury dip or dressing.

• Does your shopping trolley get filled with the same items every week Itis amazing how many people think their partner or children won’t eat certain foods, when in fact they would be happy to try. Don’t let meals hecomes Pedictable the arc caten first out of habit Talk about the meals you ear together and introduce a variety of foods.

Plans into action

The aim of the day is to see how you can maximize your physical health and mental well-being. When thinking about your cating habits, remember that food is there to be enjoyed, not to fill you with stress or guilt There is always something delicious and healthy to be eaten, which should take bur a few minutes to prepare if you are well-organized and in control.

• Discuss beforehand what you are going to eat Try some new dishes and base the day’s meals around vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and starchy carbohydrates,

• Make fruit shakes for breakfast, thick vegetable soups for lunch and plan a special meal full of fresh vegetables in the evening. I Have a good stock of fresh fruits in the house for between-meal nibbles.

If you are having a health day as a couple or with friends, enjoy preparing

the food together. If you are on your own, take the time to spoil yourself.

• If you have children, think of things they can do to help with the preparation and serving of the meals. This could be peeling potatoes, washing salad leaves or, if they are very young just watching and stirring occasionally. Involving children in the preparation of meals helps to teach them how food is made They are much more likely to eat foods they have helped to cook Children could help you make biscuits or cakes, much as flapjacks or gingerbread men.

These can be part of a healthy diet if they are eaten in moderation, and really appreciated. It is rarely the people who sit down with a drink and a homemade biscuit who have health problems it is for more likely to be those who eat a bag of sweets in the car and then still want some chocolate when they ger home . Do some exercise. Staying physically fit is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Allow time to go for a long walk or a bicycle ride, and plan how your work and family life can accommodate regular exercise in the future.

Drinking healthily

Make sure that you all drink plenty of water. For optimum health, adults need two to two and a half litres/four to five pints of water every day, five-year-olds

one litre/nearly two pints. Results can quickly be seen in a clearer skin and healthy hair. If you are unused to drinking water, begin your health day with two litres of mineral or tap water in the refrigerator and drink it throughout the day, with slices of lemon, orange or lime if you like

Try to have a day free of caffeine – your body will feel much stronger in the long run. Instead, experiment with herb teas: add about a quarter teaspoon of honey to bring out the favour Remember that cola-based drinks contain caffeine, encourage your child to drink sparkling water and freshly squeezed juices which can be fun to make.

Planning ahead

Besides preparing food for today, get your new healthy lifestyle on the right track by stocking up your refrigerator or freezer so you don’t need to turn to ready-made meals and takeaways in the week • Make a large cauldron of soup. Freeze some portions to have on tap when you need something warm and nourishing when you get home from work .It is much better to sit down and have a bowl of soup than to pick at crisps and nuts

• Consider planting some herbs: children can help with this. Having fresh herbs to hand is a godsend when you want to make a simple dish a little more special. Torn basil jazzes up sliced tomatoes, rosemary turns a chicken breast into a tasty meat

• Make fruit compotes to stock in the refrigerator. These can be mixed with yoghurt or breakfast cereals,

• Make some fruit puddings such as fruit crumbles made with a mixture of fruits – apricor and apple or blackberry and pear and a wholemeal or oat topping: These can be baked in ramekin dishes as individual portions, which can be frozen and served as an after-work or after-school treat. They are much healthier than chocolate bars or bags of crisps, and because they are full of fibre you will eat less at your next meal (assuming you have drunk plenty of water to help the file well

After you have enjoyed the day as a family, round off the day with a relaxing healthy meal. If you don’t want to cook anything complicated make a main course salad with some chicken or fish, or some hearty vegetable soup with warmed wholemeal bread, green salad or cold meats. Indulge in a special half bottle of wine. Finish the meal with some mint or camomile tea; caffeine at night can cause indigestion and sleep problems,