Spending time with the family is precious, so having activities planned ensures you get the most from your weekends. You probably already have to ferry the children to the several activities they attend at weekends, such as sports, dance or drama groups, however do try to plan for physical activities together.
Being active as a family is good, as the children see you exercising too, and know it’s not a matter of ‘do as I say, not what I do!’ You are role models for them and they will have a much greater chance of carrying that habit into adult life.
If you are walking, running or taking part in any activity with your family, don’t forget to take some snacks with you, (such as our protein bars or Gnawables) to replenish the calories burnt along the way, plus plenty of water to drink.
On your return, how about encouraging the children to help prepare the evening meal. Learning to cook is a crucial way for them to understand what makes a healthy diet and it helps if you use this as an opportunity to introduce them to an expanding range of nutritious foods.
Focus on finding tasty ways to add variety to your diet, and to boost your intake of vegetables, and fruits. Experiment with herbs and spices, and cut down on sugar and salt.
If someone in the family has a food intolerance or allergy, then teach the children how to cook with alternative foods. Have fun working together to create new recipes using the allergen-free ingredients that you regularly use in your cooking.
Catering for family members with allergies or intolerance.
Many people don’t understand how serious allergies can be – they often just think that the person is being ‘fussy’ or ‘attention-seeking’. However, if you don’t take them seriously, the consequence can be fatal and you may have only minutes to act to save a life. Therefore make it very clear that these allergies or intolerance must be taken seriously.
Cooking for friends:
- Forward planning and good communication is key. Ensure you know all of the allergies and intolerances that any guest has.
- Take your time to select a suitable recipe. If they use a specific recipe book for allergen-free meals, ask if you can borrow it.
- Read all of the labels on the ingredients you use to ensure they don’t contain the allergenic foods. E.g. many dried packet mixes contain cow’s milk. If in doubt, ask the guest and if it’s still unclear, don’t’ use the product.
- There are 14 food groups that are a mandatory requirement to be emphasised on food labels (usually in bold). Be aware of products that may not have to adhere to this rule because they are produced outside the EU. Read VERY carefully.
- Also be aware if the person is allergic to a food not on the list of 14 food groups.
Another extremely important issue is, to think about is cross-contamination, something often forgotten about. You can reduce this risk by:
- thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water
- washing surfaces with warm, soapy water
- only using single-use kitchen towels to wipe down worktops
- washing all dishes and utensils with washing up liquid and water, or a dishwasher.
- Cooking allergy free dishes separately.
If you’re still concerned, you might consider cooking just one, single allergy-free meal for all your guests. The vast majority of people with food allergies are happy to openly discuss them, but the subject can become tiresome for someone to constantly have to explain. If you have other friends attending the same dinner party or meal, try to avoid placing unnecessary attention on your friend’s food allergy.