Healthy eating is an important part of our day, and one worth our time and attention, especially when we are feeding our children. The problem that most parents face is, with all that we have going on in our lives, how do we find the right balance between health and taste?
In the complicated balancing act that has become our daily lives, all too often we focus our attention on convenience at the expense of good health. This is compounded by the fact that there are a countless number of food choices that make our lives easier while tasting good, though they are often not very nutritious.
To make matters worse, many of these foods are either misrepresented or misunderstood as being healthy while containing excessive quantities of sugar, fat, and salt. With the best of intentions, parents end up feeding their family foods they think are wholesome, when in reality, they are not.
What are parents to do? Well, the first step is to be aware of what we are eating, and then employ a little time planning (it doesn't take much) to provide your family with healthy alternatives.
Here are 10 examples of how to get it done.
1. Yogurt: Buy Plain and Flavor it Yourself
Plain yogurt is a good source of protein and calcium, but flavored versions contain tons of sugar. Add fresh fruit instead, or a little honey or maple syrup.
2. Prepared Salads: Make Them at Home
Making your own salads is economical and helps you to control the amount of salt, fat, and sugar that goes into it. Use fresh vegetables, legumes, grains, and fruit and season with herbs, vinegar, and olive oil to make it tasty and wholesome. Salt and sugar are okay in moderation. Here are some suggestions.
3. Protein/Energy Bars: Read the Labels
Not all energy bars are created equal. Read the labels and know what goes into them, by choosing ones with less sugar and fat and more fiber and protein.
4. Whole Grain Muffins: Make Them Smaller
Whole grains are good for your family, but huge portions are a big dose of fat and sugar. Make your own muffins and size them reasonably, or if you buy a big one, share it with at least one other person.
5. Sports Drinks: Drink More Water
Most sports drinks are a lot of hype, and we are better off choosing water instead. Unless you're doing high intensity training, water is the best thing to replenish bodily fluids. Plus, water is all natural and you can't beat the price.
6. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter: Go Natural
Peanuts contain healthy fats, so rather than replace them, use all-natural peanut butter and cut back a little on how much you eat. Read the labels and make sure your peanut butter contains just peanuts and salt.
7. Granola: Make Your Own
Making your own granola is easier than you think. Another alternative is to eat oatmeal, or make meusili. Here are some tips on how to get it done.
8. Smoothies: Be Aware of What Goes in and Don't Super-Size
If you're ordering a smoothie, don't get the largest size unless you're sharing. Better yet, make them yourself and use fresh ingredients while moderating the amount of sugar that goes in.
9. Fat-Free Foods: Eat Natural, Just Moderate
The jury is still out on fat-free foods and whether they help people lose weight. Try eating as naturally as possible, just exercise portion control and common sense. Read labels and avoid foods with an excessively long ingredients list, especially when you can't pronounce them.
10. Diet Soda: Just Drink Water
When you're thirsty or at the table, just drink water. The best case scenario is to reduce or eliminate soda pop from your diet, especially diet soda.