Teaching our children to be healthy starts with living that way ourselves. In today’s busy world of juggling our many roles and responsibilities as parents, finding time to eat healthy is best achieved with a little preparation. The first step is being aware of the importance of good nutrition. Poor nutrition and eating habits can lead to diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, and distorted body image. I can’t over-stress the importance of establishing good eating habits early.
Every family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all philosophy or plan, so do what makes the most sense for you and your children. Some tips to help include:
- Plan ahead: meals, grocery list, etc. Get the family involved in healthy decisions. Cook several meals on Sunday, or do as much preparation as you can for week-night meals to save time and make healthy cooking quick and easy.
- Build your meals around lean protein and then pick vegetables as these should be your main focus. Then add in a healthy carbohydrate option.
- Choose lean meats such as skinless chicken, pork loin, eye of round, fish, 93% lean ground beef, ham and turkey.
- Spend extra time in the produce section. Choose a variety of colors. Buy fruits and vegetables that are on sale as it is a great option to freeze fresh produce for later use.
- Choose whole-wheat bread and pastas, brown rice, grain mixes, quinoa, bulgur, and barley. To help your family get used to whole grains, you can start out with whole-wheat blends and slowly transition to 100% whole-wheat pasta and breads.
- Find a variety of ways to increase your family’s fiber. Try beans, quinoa, fresh fruits and vegetables, Boulger, and lentils. Limit processed foods as these tend to be low in nutrition and fiber.
- Practice the “one new thing” rule: Try a new vegetable, fruit, healthy product, etc. Something that you didn’t like as a kid or completely new to the family. Variety is the key!
Julie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.