How to Pick Healthier Foods and Beverages
You’ve got better diet every day, we make countless decisions, both large and small. Making wise, healthy decisions when choosing what to eat and serve our families can be much simpler than you might imagine. It only takes a little forethought.
Our fuel is the foods and beverages we consume. They provide us with the energy and nutrients that our bodies require to function and thrive, such as vitamins, minerals, and proteins. According to research, children’s developing bodies and minds benefit most from eating and drinking healthily. For you and your family, making healthy decisions has both short-term and long-term benefits.
Dr. Holly Nicastro, a nutritionist at NIH, says that her best recommendation is for parents to set a good example for their kids by eating well and engaging in physical activity. For meals and snacks, keep wholesome foods on hand. Children who participate in the preparation and planning of meals are more likely to consume those meals.
According to Dr. Donna Spruijt-Metz, whose research at the University of Southern California focuses on preventing and treating obesity in minority youth, parents can start teaching their children about healthy eating from the day they are born. “It is critical to set a good example”.
Better Diet Alternatives
A healthy diet can include any and all foods and beverages. However, when making food choices for yourself or your family, try to select those that are high in nutrients but low in sugar, fat, and calories. These consist of fresh produce, whole-grain cereals, breads, and pastas, dairy products like milk and yogurt, lean meats like fish and poultry, beans, and water, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Some foods and beverages should be consumed less frequently. White bread, rice, and pasta are examples, as are granola, pretzels, and fruit juices. Others, such as hot dogs, fried fish and chicken, candy, soda, and doughnuts and other sweet baked goods, are best consumed infrequently.
Dr. Adam Drewnowski, a nutritionist at the University of Washington in Seattle, asserts that eating healthier diets don’t necessarily have to be more expensive as long as you adopt the proper mindset, make the right food selections, and attempt to cook at home. He claims that with some preparation, you can make meals that are delectable, inexpensive, and nutrient-dense.
Get the whole family involved in the slicing, dicing, and chopping. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a number of resources to assist you in learning how to develop better eating practices (see the Links box in the sidebar). You might be surprised at how simple it is to prepare healthy meals and snacks.
Away from Home
Today, most of our meals are consumed outside of the home. It is consumed on the go. Making sure both you and your children eat healthy lunches is a simple way to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need.
Lean meats or cheese, vegetables, and nut butters or spreads, such as hummus, can all be added to whole-grain bread, wraps, or pita pockets to create a nutritious lunch that you can prepare with your child, according to Nicastro.
“Conserve space by packing seasonal fresh fruit or vegetables like cucumbers, snap peas, and carrots. Teenagers can learn how to prepare their own lunches, including a variety of healthy foods”.
Discuss with your children the importance of choosing healthy options when purchasing food from the school cafeteria and vending machines if they purchase their lunch. Lean protein, fruit, and vegetables, along with whole grains, are the key food groups that kids should choose for lunch, advises Nicastro. If there is a salad bar, kids should take advantage of the opportunity to create their own salad with vegetables, lean protein, and fruit.
Prepare healthy snacks in advance and place them in a small cooler or tote bag if you have an active day with your family scheduled. Consider drinking water, eating fresh fruit and vegetables, and snacking on low-fat cheese sticks. Pack a few pieces of whole-grain crackers, unsalted nuts, or a cereal with little added sugar.
Despite the difficulties they present, fast food outlets are occasionally your only choice. Use the menu labels and details on calories and other nutrients to choose healthier meals and drinks when dining out. Salads, fruit slices in place of French fries, and items that are grilled rather than fried are all examples of healthy food options.
Use of Labels
The Nutrition Facts label on food packaging is a useful tool for comparing foods and beverages when you’re grocery shopping. It can assist you in determining whether products labeled with healthy-sounding terms are truly healthy. For instance, “low-fat” foods can have a lot of sugar and calories and still not be healthy.
Utilize the Nutrition Facts label as guidance when limiting certain nutrients, such as sodium or added sugar. Additionally, you can use it to ensure that you are consuming adequate amounts of nutrients like calcium and iron.
Begin reading the label at the top. Consider the portion size. Next, consider the calorie count. The nutrients are next, where it lists the quantity and daily values that professionals advise.
You should keep in mind that what you may think of as one serving of food or liquid may actually be several. To calculate how many calories you just consumed, multiply all the numbers on the label by three, for instance, if the label for a bag of chips indicates that there are three servings per bag.
When shopping locally, it can occasionally be challenging to find options for healthy food and beverages. In some neighborhoods, residents have been collaborating to make it simpler to find nutritious foods.
People have gotten together in some neighborhoods, for instance, to take care of community garden plots. Spruijt-Metz says that growing simple vegetables like tomatoes at home is possible through gardening education, the planting of rooftop or container gardens, or small planters. “Another option is to find a fruit and vegetable truck willing to come to the neighborhood”.
Take the time to incorporate healthy eating habits into every aspect of your family’s life. Educate children about nutrition and health from a young age if you are their parent or legal guardian. And put your words into action. Make healthy food and beverage choices for yourself to set a good example for your children.
“Food gives our bodies the nourishment they require. As they grow older, teaching kids to read labels while grocery shopping is a good way to teach them how to choose healthy foods, according to Spruijt-Metz. “Teaching them to prepare straightforward, scrumptious meals that are healthy will give them a lifelong skill”.