Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Three Steps to Eating Healthy

Teaching our children to have healthy nutrition habits starts when they are young. More importantly it begins with us, their parents. We can teach our children to eat correctly by offering them healthy options regardless of our own food preferences.

Joan Lunden and Pediatrician Myron Winick co-authored the book “Growing Up Healthy: A Complete Guide to Childhood Nutrition, Birth Through Adolescence.” They discuss the importance of proper nutrition as early as in the womb. Healthy food choices are crucial during the first years of life as cells form and grow so rapidly. Moreover, Lunden and Winick maintain that an adolescent diet rich in fats and sugars is the pre-cursor to adulthood aliments such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. As parents we are entitled to teach our children to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats.

There are three steps to creating healthy meals. Getting some children to eat them can certainly be a challenge however, it is a most viable one.

1. Eat the colors of the rainbow. Fresh raw fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals your body needs to run. When our children fill up on high fat sugary treats and snacks they do not have room for the foods their bodies need to stay fueled and healthy. The body also feels sluggish and bloated. It is recommended that we should eat six servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Sounds like a lot, but when you think about it a serving looks like this:

1/2 cup of fruit
1 medium piece of fruit
1/4 cup of dried fruit
3/4 cup of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
1 cup of leafy vegetables
1/2 cup of cooked or raw vegetables

Substitute an apple for crackers. If they are still hungry at night fulfill their crunch attack by munching on some veggie sticks. It is easier to eat what is available and within reach. So keep the fridge and counter top stocked with fresh fruits and veggies.

2. Make Farmer’s Market meals. Create meals from an array of fresh produce and lean meats or legumes. Consider the paper plate model as a guide. Fold a paper plate in half. The bottom portion is for vegetables. Next divide the top portion of the plate in half. One corner is for protein (3 ounces constitutes a portion of protein) and the other corner is for starches such as rice, pasta, starchy vegetables or bread.

3. Limit baked goods and prepackaged foods. Prepackaged foods and take out are convenient especially after a long day of work and running around. However, for everyday nutrition they lack the required nutrients to stay fit and healthy. The flour and sugars commonly found in restaurant cuisine and boxed snacks is loaded with extra unnecessary calories and fat. When buying bread and crackers choose whole grain over the enriched white flour versions. To make sure you are getting the real deal be sure to read the label. Many whole wheat products claim to be such but a quick glance at the ingredients lists reveals otherwise. Try offering a serving of wholegrain cereal or muffins with a protein such as low-fat cheese or yogurt. The protein helps to fill hungry tummies longer. Avoid eating out of the box. It is to easy to consume 2-3 servings without ever knowing. Alternatively, you may look for a restaurant that offers healthy meals in take-out orders.

It is equally important to stress exercise, portions, eating out of stress, boredom or fatigue and the need to fill up on water before taking seconds. Learning to manage healthy eating habits now will put us and our kids on the right path for a healthy vibrant life.

13 thoughts on “Three Steps to Eating Healthy”

  • I wish I could follow this type of feeding for my fiance’s kids, but they have been eating out of a box for so long. They don’t even like homemade spaghetti or spaghetti sauce. They like green beans and peas in a can, but no fresh! I don’t understand kids!

  • Don’t give up hope. It will take some time. I have a little one who is a cereal addict. All he wants to eat is cereal, bread with mayo and milk. I always try to have something on the table that he will eat. Sometimes he surprises me. The older two went through to same phase when they were 2 and 3. Just keep offering the good stuff. If you have a u-pick farm around try taking them there and allow them to eat right off the bush. My son tried English peas for the first time and liked it because it was “cool”.

  • My wife has planted a garden (with me doing all the heavy labor) and we are going to have quite a haul this year. Yellow cherry tomatoes, lettuce (3 kinds), brussel sprouts, cauliflour, yellow squash, zuchinni, cucumbers, and peas. And she said she’s not quite done yet. Oh my aching wallet.

  • Your garden sounds wonderful. Nothing compares to eating fresh produce from a home garden, especially tomatoes. They are so sweet and juicy. I am ready to attempt gardening again. I had green beans grow over the winter. Maybe that is a sign.

  • I’m trying to find creative ways to sneak veggies into my kid’s diet. I’ve put shredded zuchinni in cakes, and casseroles, and they don’t even know it. Do you have any other ideas? My kids are rather picky!

  • Danna you are on the right track. I use a lot of vegetables when I cook casseroles and make salads. Carrots, pumpkin and zucchini are nice fillers for cakes and muffins. I like to dice onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, squashes, broccoli and what ever else I can chop up really small to add to rice, pastas, soups and casseroles. I throw everything from peas to raisins in salads. Sometimes it works sometimes it does not. If you think about it most of the people today with health problems grew up on a diet consisting solely of overcooked canned vegetables, fried foods and processed snacks. Today we know those foods are not good for our bodies. As long as our children are not consuming soda, chips, prepacked snacks and sweets everyday all day long they will be fine.

  • I would say that the best thing to do when you’re getting your child to eat healthy is to monitor what they eat for the most part. however, don’t be a health nazi. Just make sure that they don’t eat in excess, at least, that’s what I think. At least, that would be the first step.

  • Improving your health can be frustrating if you don’t know what to do! I love the idea on your post, its very healthy! Living with natural for better quality of life!

  • Improving your health can be frustrating if you don’t know what to do! I love the idea on your post, its very healthy! Living with natural for better quality of life!

  • To the delight of the fast food industry, quick food options have become engrained in the mind of the consumer as a choice between convenience and nutrition. For students and employed adults who don’t have time to prepare meals, convenience inevitably wins out almost every time.