5 Tips for creating a healthier nutrition plan for your family
Making the switch to healthier foods that won't break the budget can be challenging, especially with little ones' tastes to please! Here are our 5 top health tips to keep everyone in your family's tummies well-fed and happy.
Good nutrition helps our bodies function optimally, maintain a healthy weight, and goes a long way in disease prevention. Many of us feel responsible not only for feeding ourselves well but also our partners and children, who often don't fully appreciate the value of healthy eating.
Sticking with a healthy eating plan can be a little tricky when we run short on time and don't have a lot of money to spare. Today, we've listed our five best tips for you to plan better nutrition for your family, one meal at a time.
#1: Breakdown the Plate
All food is a combination of the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The USDA states a healthy diet should contain 45-65% carbs, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fat.
An easy way to make sure the meals you're preparing are nutritional is to break down the plate.
At any meal, here's what your plate should look like:
- 1/2 plate of vegetables and fruit (30% veggies, 20% fruit)
- 1/3 plate of grains
- 1/4 plate of lean protein
Keep these ratios in check, and you'll be loading up on nutrition at every meal.
Keep those proportions in mind when prepping one-pot dinners – simply throw in many veggies, fewer grains, and slightly less protein.
You can use a slow-cooker or cast iron tagine, like this one from Uno Casa, and make each meal with the right balance of macronutrients.
#2: Keep it Whole
It's not all about the ratios of food – quality matters when it comes to nutrition. A great rule of thumb for most foods is, the more natural the state of the food, the better it is for you. Carbs have a rough reputation because of the heavily-refined carb products that line the shelves of modern grocery stores.
Much of the fiber, which naturally fills you faster to control portioning, aid digestion, and vitamins and minerals get stripped from the grain in the refining process. Whole grains, and other whole foods, are a great source of nutrition can easily be a part of any healthy diet.
Try to fill your daily diet with whole food sources as much as you can.
Here are some of the best whole food groups to include regularly in your diet:
- Whole grains and fresh vegetables
- Beans, lentils, and other legumes
- Berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
- Other fruits like apples, lemons, limes, and oranges
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and arugula
- Leafy greens like spinach, baby greens, and other lettuce
- Non-starchy vegetables like radishes, onion, garlic, and tomatoes
- Nuts and seeds
#3: Portion Appropriately
Luckily, if you're getting most of your food from whole sources, you'll be eating a ton of fiber, which naturally helps with portion control as it keeps you feeling full for hours.
Use smaller dinnerware
The size of the plates, bowls, glasses, and cutlery you use can influence the amount of food you eat. The dinner plate's size has grown by 36% since the 1960s, which hasn't done our waistlines any favor as we overeat in record numbers.
By using smaller dinnerware, you'll naturally scoop smaller portions as food will appear relatively larger.
Measure with your hands
A great rule of thumb, literally, for measuring out portions is to use your hands.
Measure appropriate portions with your hands until you can learn to eyeball them:
- Proteins: 1 palm-sized serving for women, two palms for men
- Vegetables: 1 fist-sized serving for women, two fists for men
- Carbohydrates: 1 cupped-hand portion for women, two for men
- Fats: One thumb-sized portion for women, two for men
#4: Sweet Indulgence
Everyone loves dessert, but especially children. Most desserts are sugar-laden and lack much nutrition, so keep some healthy dessert alternatives on hand to satisfy a sweet tooth on most nights and save sugary treats for rare occasions.
Here are our favorite healthy desserts for the family:
- Freshly sliced oranges, or a sliced apple with a tbsp of peanut butter
- Fresh berries and Greek yogurt
- Chia seed pudding
- Frozen grapes
- A square or 2 of dark chocolate
#5: Shop the Ads
Eating a diet of nutrient-rich foods can add up quickly — fresh, whole ingredients tend to cost much more than processed, less healthy ones.
We understand that many budgets are tight, so do what you can within your financial means to eat well. Having enough food to feed the family is priority #1, always.
You can stretch your grocery budget a little further by meal planning for the week ahead of time. Use a helpful Ad app to check out weekly sales and plan your menu accordingly.
Final Notes: Healthy Food Choices for your Family
Making sure everyone is well-fed is a tough job — try your best to use the guidelines above most of the time, and give yourself a break with treats and exceptions from time to time.
By keeping an eye on macronutrient proportions, choosing whole foods, minding portion sizes, serving sweet alternatives, and shopping the sales, you'll keep your family happy while you become healthier.
Photo: Fernada Greppe, Unsplash