A Balancing Act of Food

Eating the right amount of food and the right kind of food can sometimes be tricky when you live a busy lifestyle with kids.  It is definetly a balancing act! Are you a label detective yet?  You should be.  It does take more time to buy food but it is so worth it in the long run for you and your family.  Check those labels and make sure you are eating the right stuff,

Ingrediets List: You might see that the healthiest ingredients are toward the end of the list, so they’re not a significant source of nutrition.  The first thing listed is what weighs the most in total weight of the food item.

Marketing Words: Beware of words on the package, such as fresh, all-natural, healthy meant to entice you.  These are not a reliable source of the product’s nutrient value.

Sweet Nothings:  According to the USDA, most people should have no more than 6 to 9 added teaspoons of sugar per day.  You can figure out how much sugar you’re getting by checking food labels.  4 grams is one teaspoon.

A Balancing Act:
Here’s an easy way to make sure you’re eating the right balance of foods:
  • Cover half your plate with fruits and nonstarchy vegetables (cooked or raw).
  • Fill half of the ramaining part of your plate (1/4) with whole grains or starchy vegetables.
  • The last (1/4) should be lean protein.  You can also include nonfat or low-fat dairy products or dairy subsitiutes.

Try these guidelines for help with portion control:

  1. A deck of cards for meat
  2. A baseball for your vegetable
  3. Your thumb for cheese
  4. Your fist for pasta, rice or legumes

Ideas for you plate:

1/2 fruits and nonstarchy vegetables
Brussels sprouts

Dark leafy greens
Green beans
Soft tree fruit (pear, for example)

1/4 lean protein
Chicken and turkey breasts
Dried beans and lentils
Fresh fish or dried salmon, tuna and shrimp
Lean beef or pork
Veggie patties

1/4 whole grains or starchy vegetables
Barley (non-pearled is best)
Brown rice
Dried beans, peas and lentils
Whole wheat pasta
Winter squash

How many fruits and veggies do you need a day? Find out at: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/

Are your habits good ones?
  1. Do you eat as a family at least one meal a day?
  2. Do your kids have a bowl of fruit within easy reach?
  3. Do you limit computer and TV time?
  4. Do you avoid snack that are packaged?
  5. Do your kids play outside most days?
Teachable moments:
  • Fun with Veggies: If you can grow a garden, have the kids grow their own veggies.  They’ll take special pride in eating them.
  • Family shopping:  When grocery shopping, have your children look at food labels.  Get them to choose fresh fruit as a snack instead of sugary or salty packaged foods
  • The TV ad exercise:  Get your kids to comment on commercials for food.  Help them understand what’s being marketed and what’s missing,  generally nutritious ingredients and freshness.
Do just one small thing every week to become more heart healthy.
  1. Set a goal (or two).  What are you willing to do right now?
  2. Move your body.  Make it a priority.
  3. Eat breakfast – a healtful one.
  4. Drink more water.
  5. Replace the unhealthy food in your kitchen with nutritious food.
  6. Know your portions, and stick to them.
  7. Read labels.  Avoid added salt, sugar and fat.
  8. Feed your children nutritious food, so they’ll establish good habits.
  9. Know your numbers, and get into the healthy zone.
  10. Love yourself.
Today is your day.  Because you’re worth it!!

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