While trying to eat healthier, one way you can do so is by consuming more whole foods. By eating more whole foods you are helping to strengthen your body’s immune system, which allows it to fight off colds and other illnesses more easily, as well as providing it with plenty of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Have you ever wondered why certain people never seem to get sick while others always seem to be sick? People may chalk it up to good genes, but much of the time it’s because they eat a healthy diet rich in whole foods. Here are 10 ways you can incorporate more whole foods into your family’s diet and get on the path to healthier living.
1. Portion out fruits and veggies and keep them in the fridge for snacking. Kids and adults alike will readily grab a snack from the fridge if it’s convenient. The problem is that most of the time the most convenient options are chips and other unhealthy snack foods that come pre-portioned. Keeping pre-portioned baby carrots, apple slices, and other whole foods in individual containers in the fridge make them easier to grab, which makes them much more likely to be eaten. Eliminate the bad snack choices and offer only the healthy choices instead.
2. Add fruit to every meal. Most people like fruit because it’s a sweet snack option, but in a natural and healthy way. The FDA recommends that half your plate be filled with fruits and veggies. Fruit can also be mixed into a smoothie or consumed as a 100% juice. However when you can, choose whole fruits, because the fiber content of whole fruits is very important to a healthy diet according to the American Dietetic Association.
3. Make a salad for lunch. Instead of filling the kids up with white bread sandwiches for lunch try fixing them a salad. By adding things like dried and fresh fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and lots of different veggies to the lettuce base it becomes a tasty meal. By incorporating some of the kids’ favorites they will be more likely to eat the salad. If you are worried about protein feel free to add in some beans or lean meat.
4. Set aside one night a week to eat vegetarian. Call it Meatless Monday or Tofu Tuesday and make it a fun experience for your family. Make vegetarian lasagna using thinly sliced eggplant instead of pasta, and top it with plenty of low-fat cheese. Your family will be pleasantly surprised at how much it tastes like their old favorite. Soups are another easy way to go meatless, as are other pasta or casserole options.
5. Instead of a starch, serve two vegetables. An easy way to get more vegetables into your family’s diet is by making two veggies with dinner. Leave out the pasta or potato that you might normally fix and serve a green salad and asparagus with a proper portion of meat instead.
6. Sweeten food with pureed fruit instead of sugar or syrup. If the kids normally enjoy waffles with syrup for breakfast, change it up so that they are eating whole grain waffles and some pureed strawberries or blueberries in place of the syrup. The natural sweetness from the fruit will make a nice alternative to the regular syrup topping.
7. Eat fruit for dessert. Sliced fresh fruit in a bowl with a little honey drizzled over it will make a light and refreshing end to any meal. To save money, try to look for fruits that are in season, or choose a good quality frozen fruit or fruit canned in its own juice. During the summer try grilled fruit for dessert.
8. Serve smoothies to your family for an on-the-go breakfast choice. Start with frozen fruit and you won’t need to add ice to the blender. If your kids don’t like veggies, you can easily hide them in a smoothie and they will never know, and for some extra protein blend in some Greek yogurt. These sweet concoctions can be made for four people just as easily as they can be for one, and offer a healthy option that’s perfect for the most important meal of the day.
9. Whole foods aren’t limited to just fruits and veggies. Anything that is consumed as close to how it appears in nature is considered to be a whole food. For instance, a baked or grilled chicken breast is unprocessed and unrefined, so it is a whole food and a very healthy protein choice, as are eggs and fish.
10. Add beans to everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but kidney beans can be added to sautéed ground turkey to make chili, and black beans can be added to some lettuce with some whole kernel corn, and fresh tomato salsa for a southwest salad. Beans are an easy, healthy way to bulk up nearly any savory meal.
Our thanks to Suzanne Cullen, who works with Aupair.org for sending this very useful advice on healthier eating. Many companies encourage their employees to eat healthy and participate in fitness programs. If we would all get on the bandwagon, and teach our children to get in the habit of grabbing a piece of fruit rather than chips or cookies, we’d have a healthier generation coming up!