Cooking Dinner on a Busy Schedule | Reader's Digest

Cooking Dinner on a Busy Schedule

How to make supper healthy and stress-free

from Stealth Health

13. Eat together as a family at least three times a week. According to a national survey of more than 15,000 children ages 9 to 14, children who ate dinner at the table with other family members consumed more fruits and vegetables, fiber, calcium, and numerous other important nutrients than children who rarely or never ate dinner as a family. Those who ate with their families also consumed less saturated fat and fewer soft drinks. Hold a family meeting and pick nights and times that work for everyone. Make eating together at the table nonnegotiable. Learn more about the new family dinner.

14. Keep your grocery list and recipe list on the computer. That way, you can just rotate your weekly menus (along with the grocery list) every month or every two months. Thus, once you have, say, eight weeks of menus, you’re set for the rest of the year!

15. Relax for 20 minutes before you eat. If you tend to skip breakfast, but gorge your way through dinner and then snack until bedtime, you may have a condition known as night eating syndrome. People who eat more than 50 percent of their calories after 6 p.m. tend to suffer from insomnia, gain weight more easily, and feel more stressed than people who spread their food intake throughout the day. One solution: relaxation. In a study of 20 people with night eating syndrome, a once daily progressive muscle relaxation session reduced stress, anxiety, fatigue, anger, and depression within eight days. Participants also felt hungrier in the morning and less ravenous at night. Although the name of the technique sounds complicated, progressive muscle relaxation is actually very simple. Just sit in a chair or lie on your back. Then progressively tense and then relax various muscles in your body, starting at the top of your head and moving down your body and ending at your feet. Tense as you inhale. Slowly release as you exhale. When you hit your toes, it’s time to eat!

16. Have your cocktail after dinner, not before. In a study conducted at the University of Liverpool in England, men who drank a glass of beer 30 minutes before a meal ate more during the meal than men who consumed a nonalcoholic beverage. They also ate more fatty, salty foods and felt hungrier after the meal than men who did not drink. Because alcohol stimulates appetite, sip on an alcoholic beverage after your meal rather than before, particularly if you are trying to lose weight.

17. To eat less at dinner, hold your afternoon snack to a small portion. When researchers at Pennsylvania State University in University Park offered study participants different-sized bags of potato chips as a mid-afternoon snack, participants ate the entire bag, regardless of size or calorie content. Those given smaller bags, however, felt just as satisfied after their snack as those who ate twice as many chips from a larger bag. Even more compelling, those who ate twice as many chips from the larger bags consumed an average of 150 calories more during dinner. If you need a mid-afternoon snack to get through the day, serve up a small portion and make it high in protein and fiber (such as a low-fat cheese stick and an apple). Your body digests protein more slowly than carbohydrates, keeping your appetite under control for a longer
period of time.