Weekly Meal Plan: Monday January 30th

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on January 30, 2012

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We’ve been dealing with the stomach flu around here. Just when I started bragging about the only one not getting sick — I got sick. I finally had that day of doing nothing I’ve been dreaming about. I slept most of the day and my husband took care of the kids. And guess what? They are still alive!

It’s a good thing I did my meal planning early. I just have to find some time to go the store today. For more meal plan inspiration go to Org Junkie.

What’s Cooking This Week

Monday: Shrimp Tacos with all the toppings

Tuesday: Lasagna Cupcakes with salad/fruit and bread

Wednesday: Kids Choice

Thursday: Baked Salmon with herb/spice rub, baked fries and garlicky green beans

Friday: Black Bean Mexican Pizza with salad/smoothies

Have my kids traded places?

No child has loved sweets more than Big A. When she was three, she really hit her peak for requesting sweets. But it seems that she and Little D have switched places. Over the holidays I made some cookies and Big A was done after one cookie while Little D proceeded to have four. I have never seen her eat only one cookie before.

Don’t get me wrong, she still loves sweets and asks for them but there is a definite change. I think part of it has to do with her beginning to like food more. She actually has some dinners she eats and definitely eats more at mealtime than she ever has (including the lunch I send to school). I think her need to fill up on sweets is becoming less as she eats, and likes, more food. She’s even been sitting quietly at my mother-in-law’s and trying the food, even though she still doesn’t eat much of the meal.

Little D, who will be three in April, has become more selective. He’s in the bread phase and his love of meat is less, although he still loves eggs and meatballs (my husband was so proud that he would eat a whole hamburger at In ‘N Out — now he only takes a few bites and sips on the shake!). I know his growth has slowed and this is all typical, so I’m barely fazed by this compared to when Big A went through it.

This is just another example of how things change and the many food phases kids go through — both fun and not so fun. So if you’re having a tough time, hang in there. If you want to talk leave your challenges in the comments.


The Fat Trap

Before New Year’s, Tara Parker-Pope wrote an article about the difficulty of losing weight and keeping it off. I wrote a response to her article on WebMD Real Life Nutrition. I won’t rehash all I wrote, but a comment someone wrote really struck a chord with me:

Prevention seems to be the most effective form of addressing obesity on a national scale. I think a huge question would be, “how do we get Americans, as a whole, to WANT to raise their children in this fashion?” Because ultimately, if parents don’t believe that the way they treat food is a problem, they won’t fix it.

I kept thinking about the questions this reader raised: ”’Why don’t more Americans want to raise their kids in this way?” Then I watched Oprah interview Joel Osteen from Lakewood church. Joel Osteen is a religious TV personality who is often criticized by some as being too soft. He made the point that people had been beaten down for so many years with guilt and negativity from the way religion can be presented. He was simply focusing on the good of God and people respond to that (not trying to debate religion here, just using the example!).

I immediately thought, “Isn’t that what has happened with nutrition and health?” Haven’t people been so beaten down with all the shoulds and negativity that the enjoyment of eating has been lost? People bring this nutrition baggage with them when they start a family — being overwhelmed with parenthood — and often turn away from nutrition and health. The worst part is the guilt they suffer knowing they should do better.

I met a mom recently who said she feels guilty for feeding her children “badly.” When I asked her what she fed them, yes, there were quite a bit of chicken nuggets and fries but they also ate a lot of fruit and had balanced dinners most nights. After I pointed out the good things going on — and that she could start with some small changes — she had a whole different attitude.

I guess what I’m trying to say is we need to change the way we view healthy eating. It’s not a destination or about perfection but a journey that can actually be enjoyable (and taste good!).

What do you think? What do you see holding families back from eating better?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy January 31, 2012 at 6:14 am

What do you see holding families back from eating better?
1. Being told that as parent’s we shouldn’t say, “You can’t have cake until you eat your broccoli.” (Even though it works on getting the broccoli down – other days he eats broccoli without the gimmicks.)

2. I am still not sure about serving sizes… (For the adults or the 3 year old.)
Am I getting fat on grapes? (Is that possible?) I know exercise is a component as well (my son is in 2 exercise activities Stretch-n-Grow & Soccer Shots – he did not get blessed with active parents. My parents were not going to Taxi me to soccer, etc. & My husband is a musical prodigy…) but at this point in time, I think that I can control what I eat/serve more than I can “being active.”

Hidden in #2
3. The number one thing that is holding us back is the environment in which we (the parents) were brought up in. As a parent in the 70’s, my parents served processed foods – I try hard not to also serve processed foods, but this is an area in which previous generations did not have to wrestle with & yet our generation does deal with this. Partially because our families grew up on a bucket of fried chicken rather than learning how to bake a whole chicken.
Concrete example, growing up, I never had macaroni & cheese that did not come out of a blue box (except when I had the generic version.) Now for my family, I make Martha’s version that uses pureed butternut squash (from the frozen box.)


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm


@Amy — I think you bring up an important point that many of us did not grow up in families ehre there were homemade meals. That was the time many women went to work and eating habits changed…it just took us a few decades to realize that impract. My remedy is to do the best you can….learn to cook in a way that works for you and gradually build on those skills. I didn’t know how to cook and have learned a great deal.

As for having children eat veggies for dessert the research shows that over hte long term it makes kids more interested in dessert. Instead of focusing on single food like grapes, eat regular balanced meals and eat watch hunger and satiety. Let me know if you have anymore questions.


Anne @ Always Half Full January 31, 2012 at 7:30 am

I’m starting to think processed foods is our biggest issue. Not just for health reasons. I think the taste of processed versus fresh keeps a lot of people out of nutritious eating. Restaurant chains strive to make a meal at any location around the US taste exactly the same. To do that, it is made in one place, shipped to all restaurants, and simply reheated on the plate before you get it. Americans have an expectation of every type of food tasting the same, and if it doesn’t, they won’t eat it. They end up reverting back to the frozen, canned, pre-made foods whose tastes they trust. But like young kids, sometimes we need to be exposed and try foods a few times before we end up learning that we like it.

I also think that “healthy” is seen as never eating pizza, fries, nuggets, sweets again. We have to change our definition of healthy from “diet, restriction” to “balanced”. When most of what you eat is healthy and nutritious, the occasional hot dog and french fry meal isn’t hurting you as much as when it was a staple. You don’t have the guilt of eating it, so then you don’t beat yourself up, give up, and go back to eating it all the time. When I changed my outlook to balanced rather than right and wrong food, my cravings, my choices, my guilt completely changed. But I’ve never battled with weight so it may be more difficult for a majority of Americans than it has been for me.


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm

@Anne– you bring up a good point about the food that is available today. I was just at the grocery store and noticed all these restaurant chains how have frozen items. You can bring the restaurnt food home in a whole new way. I believe once families get to cooking meals at home, they naturally move away from this type of eating. I like to eat out, but it’s once a week to get a break, and I always look forward to the routine of food I offer.


Rene February 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

I think there are several things holding people back from eating better.
1. People are so used to eating processed, premade and frozen food which contains a lot of sodium and sugar (as well as chemicals). Their taste buds are now conditioned to the high levels of sodium and sugar. Therefore, they think that other (healthier) food doesn’t taste good. You need to be off the junk for a while before you start to experience the wonderful taste of fresh, homemade healthy food. And for people like me, who have been eating healthy since I left my parents home, the junk doesn’t taste good.
2. Plain and simple, most people are uncomfortable with change. They would rather keep doing what is familiar.
3. Many people think that making homemade food is very time consuming or difficult. When the truth is that many things can be made simply and quickly and still be delicious. People need more hands on experience cooking the right type of meals. It would be amazing if healthy cooking could be taught in middle school and high schools.
4. Truth: for many people healthy food is just not a priority. People are juggling many things in their lives and often good food gets a back seat.
5. We live in a world of instant gratification. Healthy eating isn’t something you see the benefits of immediately (goes the same for unhealthy eating). So many people don’t really get the importance of it.
6. I also think that because candy, dessert and fast food are often used in childhood as rewards people are conditioned into thinking they deserve these things and do not want to give them up. They also continue to give their child these things because they feel that it is a part of childhood. Many people have strong emotional ties to food and the memories surrounding them.


Sarah February 5, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I agree that people go about healthy eating the wrong way. So many people act as if eating healthy is a chore that is simply never going to get done. But it doesn’t have to be like that. My mother has always striven to provide a healthy, yet delicious meals for us. Although it sounds like a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be. Our meals usually consist of a piece of meat, salad, fruit (usually grapes or canteloupe, but she often switched it up), and a side of vegetables. She would also try to incorporate a starch or whole grain bread into the meals. But I think the bigger issues we’re facing are portion control and lack of excercise. Although I think providing your body with proper nutrition is important, I also think it’s important to keep your body in motion. Active people tend to stay healthier, no matter what they eat, than people who lead sedentary lifestyles. So in addition to making sure your children eat right, you should also make sure that they get plenty of outdoor play time, where they run around and get lots of fresh air.
My blog: http://lifeinalargefamily.wordpress.com


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