Meal plans: How they make life easier

Karine follows the Healthy Family Challenge meal plans — while easily changing them up to suit her family's dietary needs.

Photo: sjlocke/iStockphoto

I am on the second week of the Today’s Parent Healthy Family Challenge and we are still having a blast. Last week, I wrote about the daily fitness challenges and how much my four kids look forward to them. This week, I wanted to focus on Lianne Phillipson-Webb’s nutritious meal plan, which she created specifically for this program.

Personally, I love the fact that my meals are all planned out and the only thing I have to think about is how to modify the recipes to fit my family’s eating habits. By the way, I hope it was clear that the meal plan didn’t have to be followed to a tee — you should absolutely make changes if you need to avoid certain ingredients, like I do.
 
To make a very long story short: A few years ago I did one of those cleanses where you eliminate sugar, caffeine, wheat, dairy, alcohol and meat. (I was already a vegetarian, so that last part wasn’t difficult!) A few days into it, I was amazed about how great I felt: clear-headed, energized and really happy, in general.
 
Around the same time, someone very close to me was going through the process of having her son diagnosed with autism. And so I began to research how food affects not only me, but our kids, too. I learned how some kids have intolerances to certain ingredients, and how that can affect their behaviour. So I started paying close attention to how my kids behaved after eating certain foods. I even kept a diary and once I noticed how Milla’s energy levels fluctuated dramatically after meals. We consulted our family doctor and, after getting some blood work done, sure enough, Milla was diagnosed with some common food intolerances. In the beginning, it made making our meals a bit of a challenge, but we are all pretty used to it now. Besides, I’m so fortunate that my kids don’t have any anaphylactic allergies — and my heart goes out to those who do! It actually has resulted in all six of us eating more fruits, vegetables and lean meats at every meal. (I don’t eat meat, though: As I like to say, I am a “flexible” vegan. That means I try to avoid all animal products, but will still eat baked goods made with real eggs, or have a bite of cheese every once in a while…)
 
What I appreciate most about Lianne’s menu for the #TPChallenge is the fact that it suggests a variety of simple meals that appeals to most families. I hope you think so, too!
 
What are your thoughts on the Healthy Family Challenge meal plan? Suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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