Diet is one of the best ways to improve your family’s health. A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of developing certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It can also help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the likelihood of developing some forms of cancer, and promote mental health.
Unfortunately, poor diet is one of the leading drivers of preventable chronic diseases. According to a recent study, Americans consume an average of 2,000 calories per day, which is more than the recommended amount for most adults. Moreover, nearly one-third of those calories come from sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and fruit drinks. Clearly, there is room for improvement when it comes to diet in this country!
Fortunately, minor changes to your family’s diet can greatly impact their overall health. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Consult a trusted healthcare provider
Your doctor or dietitian can help you create a healthy eating plan that is right for your family. They can also offer guidance on how to make changes gradually and still maintain a healthy diet. Depending on your family’s health history and current health status, they may also recommend specific supplements to ensure that your family is getting all the nutrients they need.
Visiting a local clinic like Crosspointe Medical Clinic can help get your family on the right track to better health. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Every family is different, so it’s important to tailor your approach to fit your own unique needs.
2. Limit processed food
Processed foods are often high in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and additives. They can also be lacking in essential nutrients like fiber and vitamins. Try to limit processed foods as much as possible and opt for fresh, whole foods instead. Many processed foods are also high in calories, contributing to weight gain.
If you are looking for healthier alternatives to processed foods, there are many options available. For example, you can choose whole-grain bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. You can also cook at home more often, using fresh ingredients. While this may take some extra time and effort, it’s worth it for the sake of your family’s health.
3. Increase fruit and vegetable intake
Aim for each family member to consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily. This may sound like a lot, but a piece of fruit or half a cup of cooked veggies counts as one serving. Incorporate fruits and veggies into every meal where possible – add them to breakfast cereals or porridge; pack them into lunch boxes; include them as part of a healthy afternoon snack; add them into stir-fries, pasta dishes, or casseroles for dinner.
Children may be more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they help to prepare them. Involving your kids in meal planning and cooking can also be a fun bonding experience. Let them choose their favorite fruits and veggies, and help them wash, peel, or chop them.
4. Reduce sugar intake
Too much sugar can lead to weight gain and increased risks for cavities, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Look for ways to reduce the sugar your family consumes from sugary drinks and snacks – water is always the best option! When buying packaged foods like cereal bars or yogurt, check the nutrition label for sugar content – choose options with less than 10g per 100g.
Other ways to reduce sugar intake include making your own snacks and desserts, using unsweetened fruit instead of syrup or candy, and sweetening foods with honey or fruit juice instead of sugar. But remember, even healthy foods like fruits and honey contain sugar, so it’s also important to limit these.
5. Be mindful of portion sizes
One of the main reasons why people overeat is because they’re served too much food. When cooking at home, use smaller plates and bowls to control portion sizes. Be aware of how much your family is eating when dining out – avoid all-you-can-eat buffets and share meals instead.
Teaching your kids about portion control from an early age is also important. Let them know that it’s okay to feel full and that they don’t have to finish everything on their plate. Because children are still growing, they may need larger portions than adults. As a general guide, a portion size for a child is one-quarter to one-third of an adult portion. If you’re unsure, ask your pediatrician.
Making small changes to your family’s diet can significantly impact their overall health. Try to limit processed foods, increase fruit and vegetable intake, and reduce sugar intake. These simple changes will go a long way towards keeping your family healthy. With a little effort, you can ensure that your family enjoys nutritious meals that are also delicious.