If you're like most moms, you want nothing more than to serve your family healthy, satisfying meals every day. Sometimes, however, grocery shopping and cooking these meals can seem like a full-time job. A few nutrition tips can help you put healthy meals on the table without adding extra stress to your life.
A Healthy Plate
Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains. These foods provide you and your family with lots of essential nutrients -- without providing excessive calories. Half your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables. Vary the type of produce you choose, making sure to include a rainbow of colors for a variety of nutrients. The rest of your plate should contain lean protein, like chicken or fish, and whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta or couscous. Add some low-fat dairy and use light salad dressings.
A good way to maintain healthy eating habits is to plan ahead. When you have a meal planned with the groceries and ingredients on hand, you're less likely to order a pizza or pick up greasy take-out on your way home. Plan a weekly menu before you go grocery shopping. Pick up all the ingredients you need in one shopping trip. When you get home, wash produce and cut up vegetables before putting them in the fridge. Keep recipes easy. Cooking a healthy meal doesn't have to mean you spend all day in the kitchen. Use only a few ingredients and make the meal interesting with fresh herbs and spices.
Read Food Labels
Reading nutrition labels is an integral part of healthy nutrition. Choose foods that contain lower values for calories, calories from fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Try to avoid foods that contain any trans fats. Avoid foods that contain a lot of added sugar, as well. Read the ingredient list and avoid foods that have sucrose, fructose, glucose or corn syrup listed near the beginning. Ingredients are listed in order of volume.
Importance of Water
Although often overlooked, water is an important aspect of nutrition and is one of the six major classes of nutrients. Encourage your children to drink water over fruit juice, soda and sweetened beverages. Model good behavior by drinking water as well. Bring bottled water with you on daily activities and stash a few bottles in your car. If your children object to drinking water because of its lack of flavor, add lemon, lime or orange wedges. This adds flavor to the water without adding any excess sugar or calories.
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