Healthy eating has become a minefield of dos and don’ts: Do make sure you’re getting enough protein, but don’t eat too much meat! Do eat two servings of fruit a day — but no, not those fruits, they’re full of unnecessary sugars! Navigating it all is hard enough for your own health, but it’s even harder to know what’s right for your kids — especially when you’re strapped for time.
Sophie Guidolin, a busy mom-of-four and Australian fitness model and Instagram star (she currently has 357K followers and counting!), knows just how difficult it can be to juggle it all. She sat down with us to share her tips…
On Sticking to a Meal Plan
Her mantra when it comes to living a balanced life is flexibility. “[That’s] the theory behind my new book, Macros,” she says. “It’s completely changed the way I eat and live and the good thing is by living a lifestyle like this, I’m not restricted in what I am eating.” The theory extends to feeding her four children, two-year-old twins Evie and Aria, Kai, 9 and Ryder, 10, too.
“I honestly believe that everybody’s children do things differently, so I don’t think there’s any right or wrong for any one child,” Sophie says. “My son, Ryder, has psoriasis and we tried a dairy-free, gluten-free diet with him and that’s what worked for him, but it’s not what works for [our other kids], so I feel that everything we do is individual to the child.”
On Meal Prep
Of course, finding the time for all this can be a challenge for many busy parents. For Sophie, it’s all about making the most of her free hours to set her family up for the weeks ahead.
“Sundays are usually my biggest cook day, and I try to prepare most of my lunches and any things that will help me throughout the week for dinners as well,” she says, explaining it can be as easy as pre-cutting vegetables or marinating chicken for the week’s dinners while meal prepping lunches. It helps, she says, that her kids aren’t too fussy when it comes to food. She believes that having your kids see the whole family eat the exact same foods will make them want to eat it as well. “I know that with my kids, as soon as I have something on my plate that’s different to theirs, they want what’s on my plate,” she laughs. “That’s how I have accomplished getting them to eat a lot of vegetables.”
On Fussy Kids
Sophie says it’s all about giving them a choice in what they eat, because when kids feel involved in planning their meals, they’re more likely to love what’s on their plate. “I give them a bunch of recipe books to choose out of and they decide what they want to cook and what they want to eat for the week at school as well.”
She says it’s always a great idea to have a few lunchbox favorites ready to go, and variety is key. Her kids’ lunch boxes often consist of a serving of fruit for the school’s snack time ‘power-hour’, followed by savory muffins, wraps or frittatas, plus her homemade muesli bars or slice of healthy banana bread. “If I’m ever making savory muffins or zucchini frittatas, I let the boys decide what they want to put in there — so you know they’re going to like it,” she explains.
Another favorite in Sophie’s household is her freezer-friendly rhubarb and raspberry morning loaf recipe.
On Her Go-To Dinner Recipe
Sophie’s fridge is always stocked with her husband’s recipe for homemade butter chicken, which she says they probably eat at least once a week. “I always have some in the fridge that I can quickly heat up in case our work days are manic and it’s ready to go in two minutes’ time.”
Essentially, creating a healthy meal plan for your family comes down to being flexible. You’re not always going to want to have chicken for dinner or have time to whip up a feast, but with a little planning and a well-stocked kitchen of healthy-enough foods, wholesome eating is more achievable than you think. “I’m now able to live a life where I’m happy with my weight and my body type and the way that I look without sacrificing any of the foods that I love to eat,” Guidlolin says.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Food To Love.