Atkins, Family-Style: 8 Atkins-friendly tips for the whole family

Losing weight can be a challenge all by itself, let alone if you are trying to stick to Atkins while juggling the demands of work and your family’s hectic schedule of homework, sports and other commitments. We put together the following eight tips to help you shed the pounds while making some healthy and positive changes your whole family can benefit from.

1. Get into a routine. Schedules tend to fall to the wayside during the summer. With that, so do regular meal times and snacks. Now that it’s fall and school’s in session, it’s time to get back into the routine of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks at established times so that you and your family know what to expect.

2. Have a plan. Plan out a shopping list and menu for the week, taking into account everyone’s schedules. Let everyone be a part of the process by helping to choose what dishes to cook, as well as healthy snacks and meals on the go.

3. Eat together as a family. Although it’s probably not possible every night, take a look at each week’s schedule and plan at least one or two times where you can have a family dinner. Several studies have shown that children who have dinner with their families usually eat more vegetables, fruits, grains and calcium-rich foods. They get more protein, fiber, iron and vitamins A, C, E and folate. They drink less soda and eat fewer snack foods. At the family dinner table, kids usually eat foods with a lower glycemic load (meaning less impact on blood sugar) than when they eat on their own. And the more frequently children sit down to dinner with the family, the healthier their overall eating patterns.

4. Go buffet-style. When there’s no time to sit down and eat together, make it easy to grab a healthy meal on the run, without resorting to the drive-thru line at a fast food restaurant. It doesn’t take long to throw together a taco or fajita bar—cook up ground beef or turkey or grilled steak, shrimp or chicken and line up no-salt black beans, chopped lettuce, diced tomato, grilled peppers and avocado, shredded cheese and salsa and taco shells. Make your meal low-carb by skipping the taco shells and beans. Or do a quick salad bar, with grilled meats or fish, plenty of fresh vegetables, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and an assortment of salad dressings. Make these buffet-style options a regular part of your menu every week.

5. Get crockin’. A crock pot cooks food at a low, steady temperature. Most crock pot recipes take about 8 hours and are fairly simple—just toss in your ingredients and let them cook during the day while you’re out. It’s an easy solution if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal when you get home at night. You can double or triple the recipe, and freeze individual portions for easy heat-and-go lunches and dinners when there’s no time to cook.

6. No substitutions, please. While your family may not be trying to lose weight, they can certainly benefit from the additional fresh vegetables and limited or no processed foods that you are enjoying as part of your low-carb lifestyle. Give them some carb options to enjoy with their meals to help round them out if necessary, such as baked yams, whole-grain rolls, brown rice or corn or peas.

7. Pack your lunch. Take a lesson from the kids and make a habit of packing your lunch the night before. When you do this, you have more control over your portions and what goes into your meal. Stock up on low-carb wraps, low-sodium deli meat, a bag of precut vegetables, hummus and some fresh fruit. Make sure you have a few to-go containers, thermoses, and/or plastic sandwich bags. This will make it easier to pack and transport your food. And don’t forget that leftovers make great lunches!

8. Keep it simple. There’s no need to give Martha Stewart a run for her money. Hit the salad bar at the grocery store for pre-cut vegetables that can accompany any meal. Keep several bags of frozen veggies in the freezer; you can add these to casseroles, stir fries and omelets. Pick up pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and add to chili, stews, soups or salads. And stock up on canned foods like tuna or salmon, beans and no-salt-added tomatoes.

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