We’re pretty busy people aren’t we Mom? I feel like I alternate between short-order cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, and teacher at a pretty constant pace. Life is hectic. Learning about complete nutrition takes time, and time is something moms don’t have a lot of. And it’s important. In Transitioning Your Family to More Healthy Nutrition – I talked about how to make the transition and where to focus. But I didn’t go into much nitty gritty detail about what good nutrition looks like so today I’m giving you 10 quick tips for more complete nutrition with a little more detail.
These quick tips will help you make the most of your grocery trip and bring home the best possible foods for your family.
Read the Nutrition Labels and Start Learning the Terms
Always look over the labels of processed and packaged foods. Foods that are labeled as being “reduced-fat” may contain lots of salt, sugar or other ingredients that are not that good for you. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. Labels list ingredients contained in a product. If you are not familiar with the different scientific terminology used for different sugars and salts, you can find a wealth of information online about what the words on food labels mean. Look out for artificial ingredients, and try not to eat things that contain them if you can avoid it.
Get More Fresh or Frozen Produce
Eat plenty of produce every day. Fresh or frozen is best. Cheap and quick options include grapes (fresh or frozen), cherry tomatoes, and whatever is in season. For instance, peaches are $1.29/lb. where I live right now. Any fruit less than $2/lb. is a good deal though. Most fruit can freeze well, so if you can – buy in bulk when you find a good deal and stock it in the freezer for smoothies and snacks. My kids eat grapes right out of the freezer, and you can wait to freeze them until they start getting too soft to eat fresh.
Carry Portable Protein and Fiber
Keep some protein bars around and carry concentrated foods if you get out and about with your kids very often. Healthy fast food is challenging. High protein or high fiber bars and dried fruit can help keep hunger at bay while you wait for big brother to finish his sports practice.
Share Meals at Restaurants
At your next trip to a restaurant, split your meal with one or two of your children. Almost all restaurant meals (even the “skinny” ones) include more calories then any of you need. Sharing costs you less money and may help you stay within healthy limits.
Selenium is an important part of a healthy diet that lots of people don’t realize they aren’t getting. This is an important mineral because it actually can help to keep your skin looking younger. Selenium offers you skin a level of protection from the sun, and can also help to minimize the impact of free radicals in our environment. Some foods with this mineral are tuna, brazil nuts and eggs. Tuna also contains essential fatty acids. Try making tuna salad for lunch once a week, or use tuna in baked red peppers.
Look for Tasty Whole Grains
Processed grains have almost no nutritional value. There is some truth to the idea that white flours are better for baked goods. But any more, you can buy a huge variety of whole grain foods from the same people making white flour foods. Buy whole grain pasta, whole grain crackers, and whole grain bread whenever possible. You can even get whole grain white bread if that is what you can get your kid to eat! My favorite banana bread recipe calls for a mix of whole grain wheat and white flour. My entire family devours this bread, and it has never occurred to any of them that it is more healthy. It’s the best recipe for banana bread I’ve found regardless of healthy ingredients or not.
Don’t Fill Up On Junk
It is imperative that you use all calories allowed in your daily diet to receive the healthy fuel that you need. Quality and quantity are both important. If you or your kids are filling up on junk, your family will not be getting the needed nutrition for optimal health. Your kids will be more cranky, sleep poorly, have less energy, and grow or heal less efficiently. Poor nutrition affects our health in so many ways besides the obvious weight problem in our country.
Eat More Chocolate. Or at Least Better Chocolate.
Indulge in chocolate (I know I am!), switch over to dark chocolate instead of sweeter varieties. It might take some getting used to, but dark chocolate has amazing flavor and contains flavonoids, which lower blood pressure to normal levels. These flavonoids also help with cholesterol by reducing your LDL levels while increasing your HDL levels. It’s important that the dark chocolate contains a minimum of 65 percent cocoa to ensure that the most benefits are received when eating it.
Find Healthy Beverages to Replace Unhealthy Ones.
Smoothies or juice are very healthy and tasty beverages. To add even more nutrition to your smoothie try adding omega-3 oils to the mix. You can use flax seeds, chia seeds, or almond milk! Fruit-based smoothies are also a great place to hide veggies like carrots or purple cabbage. Just make sure you use a lid so they don’t smell the cabbage! Kefir is an excellent choice and many people enjoy Kombucha. Both of these have live cultures to improve your family’s gut health.
Go Lean On Ground Meats. Sorta.
It is much healthier to use ground turkey in place of ground beef, but it’s really dry and nasty by itself. Instead, use half and half (beef and turkey), and try adding shredded vegetables like zucchini, squash, and onion. This will add surprising flavor. Burgers made this way contain far less fat and have a wonderful flavor. My husband makes our burgers with veggies mixed into the meat, and people often comment about how much flavor they have when we serve them up at a cookout.