Real Food Makeover: The Anderson Family
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Real Food Makeover: The Anderson Family

I am just loving these makeovers! They are long and take more work than my usual posts, but to me, there is nothing like really digging in and getting practical for particular families. Are you enjoying these posts, too? I pray that they are a blessing, for both the families involved, and those that read them as well!


This week’s family is the Andersons. There is Andi (mom), Jesse (Dad) and two little cutie pies, Corbin (2) and Callan (just turning 1).

How they currently eat:

The first thing that I noticed when I read through their questionnaire answers is that they eat a significant amount of grains and starches (most of them refined as well), lots of protein (but the same types- not much variety), and very little fruits and vegetables. When they do eat veggies, they are usually canned.

Dad is a real meat and potatoes kind of guy, and isn’t particularly adventurous when it comes to eating. Mom used to be, but it’s tough to cook that way when not everyone will eat it. So far, their boys are not picky, which is definitely a huge plus!

Their goals:

Mom is a wonderful meal planner, but she knows that she needs to take that structure and add in some better foods for her family. They need to stick to their budget, but figure out how to get higher quality and fresher foods. They would like to find some more real food resources in their area (Lubbock, TX).

Dad’s health is struggling, and he would like to lose some weight and get his blood sugar levels down, as he is at high risk for diabetes right now. Mom would really like to get back to being healthier, but most of all wants to help her hubby and find ways to make foods that he (and the boys) really LOVE, that will be better for them all.

Time for Their Real Food Makeover!

3 Baby Steps for Them to Take:

  1. Decrease their consumption of grains and starches, particularly refined (white, processed) grains.
  2. Increase their vegetable and fruit intake, especially more fresh produce (as opposed to canned).
  3. Add better variety to their protein options, for more well-rounded nutrition.

Not only are these good steps to take in general for the whole family, but they will also serve their health goals for Jesse. By decreasing refined grains and starches, he will be able to lose some weight (which will help with the diabetes risk). Additionally, improving their protein intake will help his body to get more of the important nutrients that it needs, while balancing out his grain intake and keeping his blood sugar levels more steady. These are just beginning steps to take, but they are important ones.

meatballs and potatoes

Image by floodkoff

Let’s Talk About Feeding Husbands

This is a tricky subject, but it is certainly not impossible to be able to help your husband learn to appreciate more real, fresh foods and eat a better balanced diet!

There are two main things that I think are important to keep in mind:

  • Your husband is a grown man, able to make his own decisions. He is the leader of the home and deserves respect. He needs encouragement not criticism, and needs you to work with him, not just try to force him to change.
  • Changes happen best s-l-o-w-l-y. If you can help him by changing things little by little, bit by bit, he will most likely come around and begin to eat more and more real foods than you ever thought possible.

There are lots of ways to get our men eating better, without pulling the rug out from under them and changing the foods they like to eat overnight. One is by simply talking with them about changes that you would like to make, and asking which ones sound like the most feasible changes to start with. Work as a team. Bring them on board. Let them be a part of the decision making.

Try finding out if there are some things that he is not ready to compromise on or change at all yet. Let him keep a few of his absolute favorites. This will help him feel better about the things that are changing.

Ask for his input as you create a list of meals/recipes that you would like to make. Get him to rate meals on a scale, so that you know what to include more often. Make sure that as you meal plan, each week includes some of his favorites and then it will be easier on him when you also include a couple things that are new or not as preferred.

Start by sneaking the good stuff in. I’m generally not in favor of the whole concept of getting our families to eat good foods in a deceptive manner. HOWEVER, when family members are used to the taste of processed, convenience foods or simply haven’t acquired a taste for wholesome foods like fresh veggies, you need to help them out.

One of the easiest ways to sneak in vegetables is to grate or puree them first (works well with carrots, zucchini, peppers, sweet potato or squash, etc.). Next, add them in to more complex dishes, like meatloaf or meatballs, burrito or taco fillings, chili, meat/potato stews, tomato pasta sauces, etc. They won’t be particularly noticeable, but here’s the thing: by adding more and more in gradually you can help to change tastebuds (hubby) and mold and shape little tastebuds (adorable boys). As you increase the amount of good stuff in the recipes you make, they will become accustomed to the taste of wholesome, fresh veggies and then, the sky begins to be the limit!

As well, check out my post on cooking and serving vegetables yesterday. I offer some simple cooking methods, and lots of tasty vegetable side dish recipes. And always remember, if they’re balking at eating the veggies you prepare, just add grated cheese. Cheese covers a mutitude of sins.

Here are a couple of previous posts I’ve written on feeding our husbands, which I think are helpful:

Making Healthy Changes When Your Husband Isn’t On Board

Good in the Kitchen

chopped root vegetables

Image by peet-astn

Increasing Vegetable and Fruit Intake

Priority number one is to switch from canned veggies to fresh veggies, for a few reasons. First, canned veggies are processed at high temperatures and lose many of their nutrients in the process. Second, they often have additives like preservative, salt, sugar, etc. Third, canned foods have BPA in their linings, a chemical you definitely want to avoid. Fourth, they just don’t taste very good and if I only had the choice of eating canned veggies, I probably wouldn’t be very keen on them either.

I know that fresh produce can cost significantly more than canned vegetables, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Grocery stores have notoriously expensive produce. Get out of your regular grocery store, and find a produce market or farmer’s market instead. I used the search at, and came up with a couple of options- Apple Country Farmer’s Markets or Sunburst Farm Markets, both with two locations in Lubbock. Try one of these to start with, and if they are anything like the ones in my area, you will find an abundance of fresh, beautiful produce at prices much lower than a conventional supermarket.

Similar to what I suggested in the first Real Food Makeover, these are some excellent but manageabel goals for including more vegetables and fruits in your diet:

  • Have at least 1 fresh vegetable with each dinner
  • Include at least 1 salad in each weeks’ menu plan (this can even be something like Caesar salad or iceberg lettuce salad in the beginning, and then progress to some other options down the road)
  • Serve one type of fruit for either breakfast or lunch each day. Apples, peaches, berries, kiwi, melon, pears, oranges… anything! Fruit salads can be a nice way to get these in, as can fruit smoothies, or simply a plate of cut fruit.

We’ll continue on later this week with a one week meal plan, lots of recipe suggestions, and some more ideas for switching some of their current foods choices over to more real, whole foods, especially some that are much more nutrient-dense.

How do you cook in a healthy way that also pleases your husband? What are your best suggestions for getting more vegetables and fruits into your family?

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  1. I love the idea of sneaking in fruits and veggies and do it whenever I can. Many times I’m so busy, and rely on fast, processed foods, like macaroni and cheese. For this, I like to add pureed great northern beans and pureed carrots to the cheese sauce, which adds nutrition, and the fiber and protein in the beans helps slow down how fast the starch from the noodles is absorbed by the body. My husband and I actually prefer the taste of macaroni and cheese made like this now. It seems to have a lot more flavor.

    I love the makeover posts! They are so encouraging!
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..We Need a Little Help =-.

  2. We’ve made small changes to our diet along the way and my husband usually doesn’t care too much. Simple things like switching to ground turkey rather than ground beef seems to help with the fat content issue (and I hate meatloaf, but my husband loves it and have found that making meatloaf with turkey and a mustard sauce is actually not that bad). We consciously add veg or fruit with each meal (or as snacks) and also consciously don’t buy things we know we shouldn’t (with the exception of holidays which is when we allow ourselves to pig out on Doritos and soda; sad, I know). We also use some frozen (plain) veggies when I’m feeling lazy (I’ve missed your last posts due to RSS problems, so please forgive me if you’ve already addressed frozen vs. fresh).

    I have found that a “snack tray” (idea from Dr. Sears) is our best way of getting healthy things into everyone in our family. I set out nuts, fresh fruit and veg, dried fruit/veg in a divided tray and fill it as needed throughout the day. My husband almost always grabs whatever is leftover as he heads in the door from work. My kids snack on it literally all day, and I’m content knowing they had “healthy” foods to fill them up throughout the day.

  3. Thank you for this! 🙂

    Replacing ground beef with turkey is a great idea .. except my husband hates turkey. He is the pickiest eater I have ever met!

  4. I made small changes for my man and my teen boys. They have been pretty receptive. I knew I had been sucessful when were on vacation in DC and got stuck in a rain storm without jackets or umbrellas and so we had to eat fast food and we all felt sick afterwards. Now they get it.
    .-= Jana @ The Summer House´s last blog ..Simple Baby Blankets =-.

  5. I’m really enjoying these posts! We do fairly well, and eat no processed foods at home, but there is always room for improvement. Even though our grains and carbs are not processed, I still think we eat too many.

    I wanted to add that if ground beef if grass-fed, it is extremely healthy! It is naturally lower in fat than grocery store ground beef, and the fat it does contain is very nutrient dense. Please don’t skimp on beef, just try to find a good grass-fed source!

  6. Since we married (almost 10 years ago!), I’ve changed our diet alot. My husband really enjoys my cooking (now.) We eat alot of fresh fruits and vegetables but I also ‘sneak’ them in, especially in meals with a sauce.

    Just wanted to mention something for Mr. Anderson. (I have a major risk factor for diabetes too.) At the beginning of this year (Jan 4 to be exact) I quit sugar. Really. I haven’t eaten any refined sugar since then. My only sugar comes from fruits and veggies. It was very hard, especially at first. I went through withdrawal similar, I think, to getting off of some drugs. In the past 100 days I have lost over 40 lbs and I’m at a healthy weight. Will I ever eat sugar again? Probably at a special occasion but I am determined never to be addicted to it again.
    .-= Alisa´s last blog ..Popover Sundress =-.

  7. I just wanted to let you know how much I’m loving this makeover series. I think in both cases you’ve suggested simple, realistic changes, and I’ve enjoyed taking bits from each one into my own kitchen. Thanks!!
    .-= MaryBeth @ Four Silly Sisters´s last blog ..Proof… =-.

  8. Wonderful series. Your insight into REAL families is marvelous. Your suggestions for the families are so do-able.

    Not that you need any ideas for posts but my daughter (her m-name is Johanna!) turned 8 months this week and although she is my fourth, I am stumped as to when and what food to begin her on. I am turning to you first! What and when will you feed your baby girl-material for a post perhaps?

  9. I love your family makeovers; however i have to disagree with how you are treating husbands in this post. You hit the nail on the head when you said he’s a grown man, but then you spent the rest of your post talking about how to cojole, coddle and trick your husband into eating better. In my opinion, my husband and I are partners in caring for our family. We each take on different roles. As it currently happens, I cook the meals (my husband’s specialty before marraige was pasta with mayonaise or hunks of meat and cheese – it was an easy decision about who would cook). I, of course, always take requests for meals and often ask for opinions at the beginning of the week for meal ideas. After that, what I cook is what is served. If my husband doesn’t like it or doesn’t want to eat it (which is rare), that’s fine. He’s a big boy. He doesn’t have to like everything. Regardless, he appreciates that I cook dinner and he thanks me for my work and we move on. For me to treat him as anything less than capable of being an adult about food would be demeaning. It would be the same if I were to constantly gripe about what he does for work to provide for our family or request that he make more money. I appreciate what he does. He appreciates what I contribute and we’re both adults. In our house, dinner is served.

    1. @Christine., Thanks for your comment, Christine. You bring up a good point.

      I can see how you might find my suggestions along the lines of cajoling or coddling. The reason I have given them, though, is that for this particular family, the husband’s health is jeopardized and yet he really struggles with being adventurous and liking new things. It’s hard to get a 30 or 40 year old man to suddenly change the way that they’ve been eating perhaps all of their life.

      Unfortunately, bigger dietary changes have caused this husband to balk and resist eating the food at all, which isn’t a good scenario. Regardless of his own responsibility in the matter, his wife still needs to provide foods that he will actually willingly eat. What I am suggesting is that she get creative to find ways to help him go along (willingly, not being tricked!) and slowly change the way that he eats, but changing his tastes and preferences.

      This can be a hard and slow process. I know, because I’ve had to do it myself, coming from a diet of very processed, terrible foods and teaching myself to like better ones. I had to start by sneaking good things in, or rotating foods I didn’t really like with ones that I did. Seems a bit ridiculous perhaps, but for many people, if you don’t make changes in a way that is very gradual, then the changes will not happen at all. They will simply give up and throw the towel in. That is NOT what I want to see happen with this family!

      I think that you and your husband have a very healthy respect for each other’s roles. I applaud that, and I think that is a great way to function together. It’s awesome that you put in the effort and that he is appreciative. 🙂

      1. Stephanie,

        Thanks for your response. I suppose I misunderstood the tone of your post. That is my fault. I can see that if you’re working with your husband to change your family’s eating habits, that change needs to be gradual and there has to be a trial period as you all find foods that you like that also fulfill your new nutritional goals. Thanks for the tips.
        @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home,

  10. The best thing I have found is to do as you said and give your husband the respect he needs. But then just gently educate him like you have yourself. Tell him about the problems with CAFO meat. Mention the ill-effects of too many grains. Watch a video like Food Inc with him or peruse the Weston A Price site together.

    It’s a good idea not to ambush him, but to help him along if he’s not already on the path. We are his helpmeet after all 🙂
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Wild Edibles: Garlic Mustard and Recipe for Green Lentils with Wild Garlic Mustard Pesto =-.

  11. Some great ideas here. The only thing that I find is that unfortunately, in my area, the farmer’s market (yes there is only one) is MUCH more expensive than the regular grocery store, even comparing organic (usually California, not local) vs. organic (local). Sometimes I simply have to buy at the regular store because we cannot afford the farmer’s market…sad but true. I hope that the one in TX near this family does not proove to be the same.

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