In our latest Make Me a Ten! makeover, David L. Katz, MD cooks up a plan for a working mom hoping to establish a healthy diet for her family.
Brigid Shaheen knew that her family's eating habits were bad. She just didn't see a way to make them better. For starters, there was the time management problem. To feed her husband and two sons (ages 7 and 11), Brigid, a busy San Jose–based marketing professional, relied on frozen dinners, prepackaged snacks, fast food, and takeout—so much that she barely knew her way around her own kitchen. That led to her second problem: Brigid had little idea how to prepare fresh, healthy, delicious food that her family would enjoy.

For breakfast, the kids gobbled down sugar-loaded cereals, while Brigid ate what she thought was a decent breakfast—an energy bar. She packed her sons' lunch boxes with sandwiches made with white bread. And the snacks she included—though she kept the portions small—were usually Oreos or Cheetos. For her own lunch, Brigid usually grabbed a frozen entrée on her way out the door. And for dinner, the family often hit the McDonald's drive-through or ordered pizza. On nights when Brigid had time to cook, she'd typically make white pasta topped with butter and salt.

Poor eating habits were clearly taking a toll on Brigid's health—she had gained weight and often felt depressed and lethargic—and she worried about the impact on her two young sons. When she saw a posting on looking for readers in need of a nutrition makeover, she nominated herself right away. "I want my kids to grow up having a solid understanding of nutrition, and I feel like I'm failing miserably," she wrote.

Just a few weeks later, Brigid found herself on the phone with O' s nutrition columnist, David L. Katz, MD . After hearing about the family's eating habits and busy schedule, Katz explained that although creating nutritious meals would take a little more time than Brigid was used to, it might not be as tough as she feared. "A report from UCLA showed that a home-cooked dinner takes only about ten minutes more than a dinner made from convenience foods," he says. "And if you keep at it, your body will reward you with more energy, a better mood, and a smaller waistline."

Katz also advised Brigid to get the whole family involved. "If you can do that, you're not just starting a diet, you're reengineering the way your family eats."

Dr. Katz's recipe for success


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