A very common concern among online clients is being able to hit macros and meal prep when they have a family who doesn’t necessarily want to overhaul their own lifestyles.
This is one of those things you can decide to use as an excuse and let it derail you, or you can decide you’re going to make it work regardless, and figure out a way to make that happen.
Fortunately, you don't have to figure it out on your own. Most of our clients are moms in this exact situation, so part of our job as coaches is to help guide you through exactly how to manage it.
Today's blog gives you the 6-step system we give our mom clients to hit their fat loss goals and tone up, while keeping their family happy without spending hours in the kitchen every day.
STEP 1: TALK IT THROUGH
Our first big piece of advice to our online clients when trying to help them meal plan and consider their kids and spouse’s wants and needs is to have them talk it through with them (or at least your spouse...depending on the age of your kids they may not need to be involved.)
So many people get it in their heads that they can’t change up the meals they’re making because of their family’s preferences.
We also know, though, that so many clients come to us with really big “whys” regarding their reason for making this change.
Sometimes it’s literally a matter of how long they will live if they make a change in their nutrition vs. not making a change.
Other times it may not be that dire, but they have really important goals for their own personal comfort in their bodies, or body composition goals to push themselves to get to a place they've never taken their physique before.
Regardless of why you want to make the change to your nutrition, if it’s important to you, it will be important to your spouse (they literally stood in front of a crowd of all your favorite people to say you are the most important person to them at your wedding.)
If you address this issue head on and clearly state why and how you want to improve your health, they will understand its importance and do what they can to support you.
The problem is that most people will say they can’t change their food because of their family without ever even checking in with their spouse or other family members.
Talk it through first, and I bet they will want to support your goals and probably won’t be averse to getting healthier themselves either.
STEP 2: PLANNING AHEAD
Just like with most things related to getting healthier, hitting your macros, and changing your physique, planning meals around your family’s needs will take planning ahead.
Every single online client we have starts out the process by pre-planning each day's meals into a food log before the day starts.
That way you know:
→ What you need to eat to hit your dietary targets
→ What groceries to have on hand
→ Which foods or meals to bulk prep
→ For sure you’ll hit your targets if you stick to those planned foods
If you need to have a particular dinner with your family, the first thing to do is log it in your food log.
That way you can see before you ever eat anything that day what your other meals that day need to look like in order to hit your targets.
Let’s say for example your targets for the day are 2000 calories and 150g of protein.
Your family dinner on a particular day is chili.
Your regular recipe per serving is 300 calories and 28g of protein, plus you typically add chips and cheese on top, which adds 270 calories and 9g of protein.
You’d start out by adding that into your food log first, before entering the rest of your day’s food.
Once you’ve done that you can see that the rest of your day’s meals should fit within your remaining macros, which would be 1430 calories and 113g protein.
Now let’s say you are in a larger deficit and your targets are 1500 calories and 150g of protein.
In that case you may not want to “spend” 570 calories on this meal.
In that case you could minimize the calories by taking out most of the chips and cheese (let’s say you’re having ⅓ of the serving of each of those things) which would reduce the meal by 180 calories, making it 390 calories for a cup of chili, 1/3 oz of chips (about 10), and 1 ¼ TBL of cheese.
This way you’re still having the same meal with your family, but you’re able to put everything into your food log so you can adjust the rest of the day and adjust the proportions of the things in your meal to fit your goals without altering your family’s meal at all.
STEP 3: BUILD-YOUR-OWN MEALS
Build-your-own meals are great for macro tracking parents because:
→ You can customize the meal to fit your macros without needing a separate dinner
→ Kids typically love it because they can build their own plate
Examples of meals like this could be tacos, personal pizzas with some low-fat options on a Joseph’s pita or flatbread, pasta with separated ingredients, or a main protein with sides.
This is the way our online clients and their family eats a lot of the time.
If their family is having taco bowls for example, they fix their kids and husband bowls with rice and beans, and make their own with cauliflower rice.
On theirs they might add some cheese or other toppings where you might leave that off.
You can also add in the specific amount of meat you need in order to get your protein requirement.
Flexible dieting should make things easier for you than having to stick to a meal plan, not harder.
Try to also have a flexible mindset.
Maybe you have to use an extra dish in order to make your meal slightly different, or make two different batches of something. Maybe you end up passing on the dessert or have some fruit instead. Maybe you get a bit creative and make some meals with more veggies and less added carbs and/or fats.
These things might take a bit more time, but that may be part of the cost of getting in the right amount of calories for your body and getting in the micronutrients you need without missing out on the family dinner.
STEP 4: TRACKING RECIPES
If you find a recipe you like to fix for your family, there is a function within most food tracking apps to create a recipe.
Basically, you log all your ingredients in the amount for the full recipe, then set the “servings” as the number of grams of the entire batch.
That way, when you weigh out your portion, you can see how many grams your portion is and enter it as that many servings.
For example if you make spaghetti squash pizza casserole and weigh out a 300g serving for yourself, you’d enter 300 servings into your tracker to get exact macros on that amount.
Here's a video that explains exactly how to do this in MyFitnessPal:
STEP 5: AVOID KIDS' SNACKS
Kids’ snacks (or leftovers from their plates) can add up to hundreds of extra calories per day above and beyond your own meal without adding to the satiety you feel from your food or really adding any satisfaction.
Avoiding these can mean the difference in spinning your wheels and making progress at a good rate.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Environment Design
Don’t keep kids snacks at eye level, in clear containers, or on the countertop.
Having things in clear view makes you way more likely to grab for a few here and there without thinking about it.
In a study looking at environment design, office workers with candy on their desk ate 3x as many over the course of the day as those same workers when they put the candy in a drawer across the room.
Having things in plain sight can make it feel more tempting and just remind you that it’s there, which is causing you to call on your willpower constantly throughout the day.
Instead, put them up high or down low on a less visible shelf, behind a cabinet door, or in an opaque container.
2. Put a barrier between you and the automatic reaction
After meals if you have a tendency to snack on your kids leftovers, put some gum in your mouth.
Since it’s typically a mindless reaction to seeing the food there, having the gum will cause you to have to take the gum out of your mouth to eat the leftovers, and just having that pause to think about it will usually stop that automatic habit.
3. Have an If/Then Statement
If you’re someone who will still have urges to overeat on those types of things after using the first two tactics, create an if/then statement for yourself.
This is an action you’ll do IF you get the urge to eat something you don’t want to.
Example: IF you get an urge to eat your kids cookies when they’re not planned in your food log or you don’t want to, THEN you'll go for a walk.
Of course, the ‘go for a walk’ option may not work for you if your kids are home with just you.
You can create a list of options for your ‘then’ and decide which will work best for you.
Some options our clients have used are:
→Listen to a podcast
→Drink a glass of water
→Count to 20
→Set a 10 minute timer
→Take 10 deep breaths
Anything that creates some space between the urge to overeat and the reaction of doing it will work.
STEP 6: RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD/BODY
Something some parents struggle with in this area is being a good example for their kids while also showing them a good relationship with food and with their body image.
Some worry that weighing and measuring food or attempting to change their body composition will show kids a bad example or cause eating issues. This is a fair concern, and I’m not an expert in psychology in kids or adults but I have some thoughts on the subject that could be helpful.
The language that’s used is a huge variable.
If your child asks why you’re measuring out food, and you answer one of two ways:
1. I can’t eat too much, I need to lose some weight.
2. I need to make sure I eat enough of the right foods to get big and strong.
Those have two totally different connotations and effects on the way your child will think about food and their body.
Being sure to avoid framing things as needing to restrict, or not eating too much, or saying food is good or bad will create a much more positive view on food.
The issue of measuring things is another common question.
We teach our online clients to not view using the food scale to weigh meals any different than using a measuring cup to measure out flour for muffins.
It’s just a tool.
If you don’t make it weird, your kids don’t see it as weird.
You can choose to show your kids a healthy way to eat while still including some ‘treat foods’ here and there and use it as an opportunity to teach kids what a healthy diet looks like.
“We eat meat/protein foods to get big and strong!”
“We eat these vegetables to make sure we feel great and stay healthy!”
“We eat these carbs to give us lots of energy for sports/recess!”
We are constantly telling our kids “food affects the way you feel.”
Our job is to make sure they eat the necessities most of the time, and help them notice when they feel good what foods they’ve eaten, and when they feel bad what foods they’ve eaten, and let them draw their own conclusions from that information.
We know this can be a pretty complicated process when you have to worry about more than just yourself.
Click here now to apply to work with our team, and learn more about the coaching method our team uses to help moms like you drop that 20-30 lbs you’ve been struggling with and tone up, without giving up your favorite foods or living in the gym.