Family Nutrition Guide (Part 3): Food Cravings, Planning for Grandparents

Marcela Soto, Thanyapura’s resident nutritionist, started covering family nutrition.  The first part focused on picky eaters, energy requirements and kids in sports training.  The second article provided recommendations for athletic families, low glycemic index snacks, what the best carbs are and an overview of fats.

In this week’s article about family nutrition, we look at food cravings and meal planning for grandparents.

When kids (or adults) have food cravings, what should we give them?

Family Nutrition Guide (Part 3): Food Cravings, Planning for GrandparentsIs it a craving or is it hunger?  Is it always happening or does it occur during specific situations and times?  Is it for something specific?  These questions make a person think about the real reason behind the craving.  It helps them to be more mindful about whether they should eat or not.

Cravings come after a sugar spike.  Sugar levels go down quickly as a response to that spike – this is known as a “sugar crash.”  A sugar crash is when your body is on low energy.  You feel moody but not hungry while wanting to eat.  The mind craves unhealthy, sugary foods.  Here are a few tips on how to stop food cravings:

  • Avoid sugar spikes and crashes. Prepare whole grain meals at home.  Whole grains stop sugar spikes but maintain sugar levels.  It helps you to feel good throughout the day.
  • What should you eat during a craving? Make a list of “crave saving healthy snacks.”  The snacks should be high in energy (carbs and/or fat), builds tissue (protein and fat) and protects your immune system (minerals, vitamins and antioxidants).  Examples include:
    1. Healthy or vegan cheese with whole grain toast or fruit
    2. Homemade oatmeal bars (using dates or dried fruit as natural sweeteners, no added sugars)
    3. Sweet potato chips (dehydrated or baked)
    4. Green smoothie (green leafy vegetables, fruits and seeds)
    5. Nut butter with fruits
    6. Yoghurt with probiotics with seeds/nuts
    7. Homemade trail mix

How do you plan for grandparents with health conditions?

Family nutrition concepts mentioned earlier can apply to older adults, with an emphasis on the following recommendations:

  • Avoid processed foods: shouldn’t be part of your family meals. You want to discourage health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or dyslipidemias.  Add all natural flavours to food with spices and herbs.  Avoid processed and prepared sauces/products.
  • Healthy protein and fats: Meet caloric and nutrition requirements to ensure enough protein and fats. Every family member should consume enough of these and not overeat.  Provide different options.  Change it up each day so your loved ones get the best quality of these nutrients.
  • Sit during meals: A family meal should always be a time to sit, talk, make time and share. It prevents older adults from skipping meals or eating unhealthy foods while giving your family ample time to share.
  • Portion control: Balance the food and avoid restrictions. If you serve the food on the plate, take out what’s left of the food to prevent over or under-eating.  Portion control starts in every dish.  Avoid “family style” servings to make our loved ones eat the right amount.

In this article, we explained how to stave off cravings by avoiding sugar spikes and crashes and how to prepare healthy snacks to satisfy cravings.  Meal planning for grandparents relies on the same principles of family nutrition we mentioned earlier.  Next week, we’ll focus on what to eat during family and social activities, as well as recommend approaches to restaurant dining.

About the Author

marcela prats

Marcela is a Nutritionist and Dietitian, with a specialisation in Sports Nutrition. She earned her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition at the University of Costa Rica in 2008, then completed her master’s degree in Human Movement and Integrative Health with emphasis on Athletes and Sports Nutrition in the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica in 2010.  Marcela dedicated the past ten years to Muay Thai and holds the WBC Asia World Championship.

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