Hi there, Mamas! Happy Memorial Day Weekend! As we count down to the unofficial start of summer, use this number trick to create healthy, balanced meals and snacks wherever you are – even a holiday barbecue!
Healthy Eating Made Easy
- Get (at least) 1 serving of veggies and/or fruits each time you eat. Fruits and veggies are “nutrient-dense” foods. Basically, you get a ton of good stuff for not many calories. (This is in contrast to “energy-dense” foods, where you get a lot of calories [read: energy], but not a lot of nutrition – think foods loaded with extra sugars and fats.) Not only do fruits and veggies have many vitamins and minerals, but they’re also a great source of my nutrition BFF, fiber! These nutrition super-stars are front runners of diets that have shown great heart-health benefits, like the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet. Using this trick should help you make it to the 5-a-Day goal! (For more on organic produce, check out this article.)
- Get 2 food groups at each snack. Getting multiple food groups each time you eat increases the variety in your diet. Variety is so important because it helps to ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs everyday – not only vitamins and minerals, but a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats as well. Using Tip #1 will help make sure that your valuable snacking isn’t solely wasted on “energy-dense” foods, like chips or cookies. It can also help bring mindfulness into snacking, since incorporating two food groups may take a little extra planning at first. Are you a Mama-on-the-Go? Bananas, clementines, apples, carrot sticks, or strips of bell peppers are all completely portable and diaper-bag-friendly. Pair with a cheese stick, yogurt, or nuts for a hunger-crushing punch of protein. Try veggies with some whole grain crackers to get the energy boost from healthy carbs.
- Get 3 food groups at each meal. Not just the presence of three food groups, but at least one serving of each three will give you the most balanced nutrition. (So that onion and pickle on your hamburger don’t cut it – go for a garden salad with your burger.) We want to make sure that our meals are balanced and have healthy variety. Following this rule can help bust you out of a meat-and-potatoes rut. Feeling uninspired for summer cooking? Add fresh veggies or pineapple to kabobs on the grill. For a real nutrition boost, try to create your meal from food groups you missed out on at snack time. So, if snack time consisted of some berries and yogurt, try a chicken-veggie stir-fry with brown rice for dinner. By using this rule, I know that I (and more importantly, L) are getting the best nutrition. (Check out this recipe for a toddler-approved complete meal – perfect for the whole family, too!)
Hopefully these tips will help make it easier to create a healthy plate at holiday cookouts, or anytime! Not sure if fruits or veggies will be on the menu where you’re going? Bring a fruit salad or veggie tray as your contribution. Have a great, safe weekend, Mamas!
Trouble with a picky eater? See 10 tips for expanding their palate.
What’s your favorite way to make sure you’re getting balanced meals?
Image “Picnic” courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image “Greek Salad” courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net