** This week’s post is brought to you by a successful client family. Feeling happy and excited about their new health journey, as well as cooking meals that make everyone stronger and healthier, has inspired Lia to share her tips. She does this in hopes of helping YOU find YOUR path to help YOUR family!***
By Lia Francisco
Creating a meal plan can seem so difficult, especially with busy schedules, balancing home and work life, and a having family with a variety of digestive issues. It can feel totally overwhelming. I know because, over the last year, I struggled to find recipes that work for myself and my family, while coming to terms with a variety of digestive issues, sensitivities and allergies.
We are a family of five, with three kids ages four and under. We avoid packaged and processed foods, dairy, soy, gluten, corn fed meat, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables depending on the child.
As we identified our digestive issues we had to change our grocery list, meal planning, and cooking strategies accordingly. I realized there was an emotional struggle of dealing with time management, organizational skills and meal prepping, and at times it felt as difficult as dealing with the actual diet changes.
As time went on, I adapted, learned to manage time better, found easy foods to take on the go, and developed meals and snacks we all can eat. There are some variations based on individual needs, but for the most part we are all eating similar, and this saves a lot of time and is less stress.
Here are my tips on how to keep life as simple as possible in the midst of all the different digestive issues, sensitivities, and allergies your family might be facing:
1. Meal Plan!!
This is so important! I really avoided doing this at first, but it was very stressful without planning ahead. I realized it saves time, and can be fun planning ahead and thinking of meals everyone can eat together. I use a lot of Paleo recipes or simple meals like meat or fish, a vegetable and a starch. Nutritional therapy can help you find the types of meals you should plan for your family.
2. Simplify Recipes
I was so overwhelmed when I read a lot of the Paleo recipes because they included a lot of ingredients I did not have on hand (at the time). I didn’t know where to buy the ingredients, or I thought they were really expensive.
I learned to modify recipes I found based on what I had in the house as well. The recipes can look and sound overwhelming at first, but it’s okay to make your own changes and not follow the exact ingredients! Once I realized I could use recipes to inspire me, but not follow them exactly, this helped alleviate a lot of stress.
3. Time Management
My husband works full time, I work part time and stay home with the kids, and we have a real estate business, so we are constantly on the go. As we all worked through nutritional therapy, we had to re-adapt our food several times.
I made the mistake of cooking for everyone separately, and with no plan as I started cooking. The kids were already hungry as I struggled to cook without a plan. After many chaotic mornings and evenings filled with crying, hungry kids, I started changing my cooking schedule. I started making breakfast for the next day or next couple days after they ate breakfast, and made snacks and lunches after the kids were in bed. I blocked out time two or three days a week after breakfast to cook dinner for two to three days at a time. Having a schedule and routine cut down the stress, crying (them and me) and the chaos. I also had more free time than when I was cooking daily.
4. Identify, and have on hand, staple ingredients
There are some staples we always have on hand that help us create a variety of recipes. These ingredients are coconut oil, olive oil, nut flours and cassava flour, maple syrup, cinnamon, honey, onion powder, herbs, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, salt, ginger, coconut aminos, canned pumpkin, coconut milk, and coconut flakes. I’ve made so many variations of the same recipe with these and they are safe for all of us. You will learn what is safe and a staple for your family in nutritional therapy. Once you know what you need, you can have a safe variety as well.
5. Easy snacks and foods
My kids love taking containers of food and/or snacks in the car. Some of the easiest foods they love are very basic- ground meat, sweet potatoes with coconut oil and cinnamon, white potatoes with salt and olive oil or ghee, chicken fingers without breading (I use coconut flakes instead), roasted vegetables, fresh or frozen fruits (sometimes I add coconut oil or honey), nuts or nut butters and/or coconut, and protein shake smoothies with collagen peptides and bone broth. My son loves these smoothies, and never notices the bone broth taste. These are all things I can prep ahead, and simply grab to take in the car. These are made during the evening meal prep time I blocked out. It is important to know your schedule so you can make the right amount of food for that week and for traveling.
I hope these tips can help ease stress, and improve day-to-day life. Like anything, making these changes leads to a new routine, and it gets easier with each day. We are all so much happier and healthier since making the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes!
Lia Francisco, originally from upstate New York, now lives in Butte, Montana. She graduated University at Albany with a Masters in Social Work, and has a B.A. in Sociology and A.S. in Criminal Justice. She has 19 years experience in human services, and is a licensed certified social worker, in addition to being a real estate agent. She and her husband have a real estate business, TL Francisco Properties, with a mission to give God glory through demonstrating His love to others, by serving them and helping them in their current situation. They have two sons (ages 4 and 2) and a daughter (age 1), and spend their free time outdoors or with family and friends, and volunteering at their church. To learn more about Lia and her husband and their business click on the links below or view TL Francisco Properties or Lia Francisco, Real Estate Agent on Facebook.