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Healthy Eating For Kids

eating healthy for kids So, what exactly is healthy eating for kids? Simply put it is finding better alternatives when it comes to the food your children eat. Between peer pressure and ads for junk food everywhere, it may seem like it will be impossible to get your kids to eat well.

It will no doubt be a bit of a challenge, but the sooner you start the process the sooner your kids will learn lifelong habits of healthy eating. Kids need to be involved in the process of changing to eating healthy food. They are more likely to accept new foods if they are involved in the purchase and preparation of them. Let them pick out some new fruits and vegetables from the produce section and then have them help you in the preparation. Explain to them the benefits of eating healthy food and how they help their bodies grow and be strong. Have your kids help with the cooking and they will learn lifelong good cooking and eating habits. When children learn how to prepare healthy food when they are young they tend to be healthier eaters as they grow up.

The first step to getting your kids to eat healthier food is to have lots of healthy food around for them to eat. Stop buying unhealthy processed snacks that are loaded with sugar and salt and replace them with healthy snacks. Children, especially younger ones, will generally eat what is available at home. healthy eating for kids

Make it easy for them to choose healthy food when they’re at home. Healthy choices include things like low-fat yogurt, celery with peanut butter, wholegrain crackers and cheese, fruits and vegetables. Apples and bananas are easy to eat and are almost always available. Celery, carrot sticks and slices of colorful peppers with a little low fat ranch dressing are easy to prepare and have ready to go in the fridge. Switch to whole grain bread and cereals. Children should have 4 to 6 servings of whole grains per day and bread and cereal are two good ways to get them. Limit sugary drinks to special treats. Children should ideally drink lots of water and low fat milk. You can also try a shot of 100% fruit juice in sparkling water to liven things up.

An important part of eating healthy is to have regular family meals. They are a comforting ritual for both parents and kids. Try to have dinner approximately the same time each day. If a child knows that they will be having a meal soon they will be less likely to snack right before it. Family meals are also a good time for parents to introduce kids to new foods and be good role models for healthy eating. Parents need to practice what they preach and set an example by eating healthy food as well.

eating healthy for kids Breakfast is another good time for a family meal. It is the most important meal of the day and children who eat a healthy breakfast tend to do better in school.

A healthy breakfast could be hot or cold whole grain cereal with banana or raisins, or scrambled eggs with cheese and vegetables and a slice of whole grain toast. Eating a variety of foods is important too because children will get bored with the same thing over and over and will be tempted to find some junk food, if only for a different taste sensation. Find some easy recipes that use good sources of protein like lean cuts of meat, fish, eggs, beans and nuts, but offer a variety of flavors to keep meals from becoming predictable and boring. Use cooking methods like baking, grilling or steaming instead of frying to limit fat intake.

Don’t battle over food. It’s easy for food to become a source of family conflict. Kids should be able to decide when they are hungry and when they are full. Parents should control which foods are available to eat both at meal time and between meals. Don’t insist that your child clean their plate. Serve appropriate portions and respect their ability to decide when they are full.

You’re not going to be able to eliminate all sweets and junk foods from your house. That’s just an invitation for kids to over indulge when they are given the opportunity. The aim is to have your children be in the habit of reaching for healthy foods because they are readily available and it is the normal thing for them to do. Once you have established these good eating habits for your family you will likely find that you have answered the question of what is healthy eating for kids.





What is a Healthy Diet?

what is a healthy diet There are a lot of opinions, many of them conflicting, about what a healthy diet consists of. If you need some confirmation of this just Google “diets” and see what comes up.

The simplest definition would be to eat the right amount of a wide variety of whole foods from different groups in the right proportions. Actually, that sounds kind of complicated, so let’s break it down a little bit.  You need to eat the right amount of food. This generally means less than what most people consume on the traditional western diet.  You also need to choose a variety of foods from different food groups, because no one or two types of food have all the nutrition needed to maintain a healthy body.  You also need to eat the right proportions of foods from these different groups, as nutrition is spread out through all of the types of food.

Healthy food groups include: foods high in fiber, whole grains, proteins, and carbohydrates from natural sources. Good choices from these food groups include fruits, vegetables, oils, dairy products (low fat milk, yogurt and cheese), natural sugars (not refined or high fructose corn syrup), lean meats, fish and poultry.

Included in any type of healthy diet is lots of water. You body is about 75% water. It needs 1.5 to 2 quarts of water per day. Drinking a lot of water also helps to cleanse your system. It might take some time to get in the habit of drinking water rather than soda or coffee, but you will soon feel much better for the effort. what is a healthy diet

The western diet tends to put too big of an emphasis on protein from animal sources. A healthier diet would emphasize a balance of protein from grains and legumes (beans, peas, lentils) as well as animal sources.

You should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Include fruit with breakfast, salad with your lunch and vegetables with dinner.

Notice that processed foods are not mentioned as a good choice for a healthy diet. Pre-packaged, processed foods are generally stripped of about 80% of their nutrients and flavor, which are replaced with salt, sugars and other additives. These types of foods will fill you up for only a short period of time and leave you hungry again in a few hours. This will lead to weight gain because you are eating more calories than your body needs, and they're not even healthy calories.

what is a healthy diet The easiest way to avoid these unhealthy food choices is to eat more whole foods. Whole foods have very few ingredients, if not just one.

Products that have more than five ingredients, or have ingredients that you can’t pronounce, probably fit in the processed food category. Now, all this healthy food you are going to be eating has to taste good. If you don’t know how to cook, or don't cook very much, you really should learn to. Between the internet and videos it really shouldn’t take long to learn the basics. It’s actually fun once you get the hang of it. It’s also much cheaper than take-out or pre-packaged, processed food. Research some simple recipes. Simple doesn’t have to mean it won’t taste good. Experiment with different herbs and spices for flavor rather than salt.

Eating all these healthy foods is going to give you more energy too, which is good because a healthy diet also includes exercise. Walk whenever you can, take the stairs rather than the elevator if you’re not going above the 4th floor (lets try to be real here). Join a gym if you can afford to. what is a healthy diet

Just make sure that you increase your physical activity level for at least 30 minutes per day. Most people don’t get anywhere near the amount of exercise that they need to avoid weight gain and maintain a healthy body.

So, what is a healthy diet? It is a way of life that involves eating more whole foods from healthy food groups, in moderation, and increasing your physical activity.



Healthy Foods To Eat

healthy foods to eat Over the past 30 years, obesity rates have been increasing steadily. During this same time, there has been a significant rise in the amount of calories we consume in the form of fast food, convenience store food, and the many other snacks we eat away from home. This type of food is more commonly called junk food.

People consume a lot of their daily calories at home. Unfortunately, home has also become a place for convenience snack foods and fast food. It’s where we grab a candy bar or a bag of chips and sit in front of the television. It’s where we sit down to eat after stopping at the drive-thru. It doesn’t have to be this way. The key to changing these types eating patterns is to have more healthy foods available to eat at home. And a good way eat more healthy food is to start with whole foods as the ingredients for your meals. You can reduce the amount of junk food your family eats by increasing their consumption of healthful, homemade meals and healthy snacks, made from healthy foods.

There is no doubt that preparing healthy food may be more challenging than serving the pre-packaged, over-processed foods that you may be used to having in your kitchen, but the health benefits and cost savings are well worth the effort. Here are some of the healthy, real foods that you should have in your fridge, freezer and cupboards for healthy breakfast meals, lunches, snacks and dinners.

  • Whole Foods – food in its most natural state, more a product of nature than a product of industry.
  • Lots of Fruits and Vegetables – local and in season when possible.
  • Dairy Products: Milk, Yogurt, Eggs & Cheese – low fat, unsweetened and pasture raised if available.
  • 100% Whole Wheat and Whole Grain Products – made with only a hand full of wholesome ingredients.
  • Seafood – wild caught is preferable over farm raised.
  • Meats – Pork, Beef and Chicken – lean cuts, locally raised if possible and eaten in moderation.
  • Natural Sweeteners – Honey and Pure Maple Syrup – also eaten in moderation.
  • Snacks – Dried Fruit, Seeds, Nuts and Popcorn – unsweetened and raw (when applicable).
  • Beverages – water (lots!), low fat or skim milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee and tea in moderation.

Here are the kinds of things you should avoid if you want to eat more healthy foods.

  • Refined grains such as white flour or white rice – items containing wheat should say “whole wheat”, not just “wheat”.
  • Refined sweeteners such as white sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or any artificial sweeteners.
  • Anything out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label.

 How to Avoid Processed Food in General

Read the ingredients label before buying anything. Looking at things like fat grams, calorie count and sugar content is always a good idea, but the best indicator of how highly processed a food is can actually be found in the list of ingredients. healthy foods to eat

 If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you may want to reconsider buying it.

Increase your consumption of whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables. This will help replace the processed foods in your diet, and will actually make your food selections in general much simpler. You won’t have to bother so much with counting calories, fat grams, or carbs when you select whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.

Find a good local bakery and buy your bread there. If you were to check the ingredients of a loaf of a brand-name whole wheat bread you would likely see about 40 different items on the list, including white flour and sugar. Why have so many items if it only takes a handful of ingredients to make bread?

In addition to your bread choice, when selecting foods like pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers always go for the whole-grain option. And don’t just believe the health claims on the outside of the box.  Read the ingredients and make sure the product is truly made with only 100% whole grains – not a combination of whole grains and refined grains, which is unfortunately how a lot of “whole grain” products are made.

Avoid products containing high-fructose corn syrup and those that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients. Although research is mixed on weather high fructose corn syrup is really worse for you than white sugar, it often indicates that the product has been highly processed.

Try to avoid the kids menu at restaurants. They are often things like pre-made chicken nuggets, french fries, and pasta made with white flour, and are highly processed. Instead, try putting together some sort of side dish plate of healthier items like an appetizer and a salad.

Visit your local farmers’ market if there is one near-by. Not only will you find food that is in season, which is usually when it is most nutritious and flavorful, but you will also find a selection of pesticide-free produce and more naturally fed meat products.

 Here's a Thought!

Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself. If you have to peel, chop and deep fry potatoes every time you want french fries, you might not eat them as often. Eating “junk food” such as cakes, sweets, and fried foods only as often as you are willing to make them yourself will automatically cut down on the frequency that you have them. Cooking real food is more fun anyway, and it is much better for your health and your waistline.

You probably won't be able to cut all the junk food out of your healthy diet, but making it more dificult to eat those junk foods along with having lots of healthy foods to eat in your kitchen will certainly make it much easier.



How to Save Money on Groceries

how to save money on groceries

Grocery shopping on a budget doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming. There are healthy and economical choices in every aisle of a grocery store.

Here are some tips on how to save money on groceries and prepare tasty, healthy meals your family will love.

  • Eat before you shop – grocery shopping on an empty stomach tempts you to buy things you want right now because you are hungry.
  • Check the stores sales flyers. Sales flyers are usually put out mid-week and can be found at the store’s entrance, in the newspaper, or on their website.
  • Check for store brands. Most stores offer their own brand of products that often cost less than name brands and are usually of at least equal quality.
  • Look up and down for savings. Check out the higher and lower shelves to find the less expensive generic or store brands, often very similar to higher-priced brand names though packaged under different labels. Stores often stock the most expensive items at eye level. You can save money by looking at the items on the other shelves as well.
  • Use Coupons – but only for items you know you'll use. Check the coupon expiration date to see if you can put off buying the item until you have a need for it.
  • Grab from the back. Stores usually stock shelves from back to front, placing the newest items behind the older ones. Reach in the back for the freshest items, especially in the produce, dairy, and meat aisles.
  • Ask for a rain check. If a sale item has run out, ask the store for a rain check. This allows you to pay the sale price after the item is back in stock.
  • Join your store’s loyalty program. Most stores offer a free loyalty program. You can get special offers and discounts that non-members do not. If the store has a service station attached you may get a discount on fuel as well.
  • When to shop. Consider the time of day, day of the week, and even the week in the month that you grocery shop. Grocery stores are usually the least busy early in the morning and in the middle of the week. Try to avoid the 1st and the 15th of the month as these are often days when people receive pay or pension checks.
  • Try not to shop on pay day – you may feel as though you have more money to spend than you realy should.
  • Buy in bulk. It is almost always less expensive and you can freeze perishable items such as meat and bread in smaller portions to use as needed. It’s always a good idea to buy non-perishable items like canned foods, dried beans and grains, and cereals in bulk.
  • Buy less expensive cuts of meat.  Find some recipes that use the less popular, and usually less expenive, cuts of meat. You can add extra vegetables and beans to make the meal go further.
  • Shop alone. Leave the kids at home if you can. This will keep you from being distracted and buying items that aren't on your list. If leaving them at home is not an option, many grocery stores have supervised play areas for small children. Take advantage of this free play time for them.
  • Save your vegetable trimmings. Use them to make your own vegetable stock. Not only do you save money, but vegetable stock also makes a nutritious base for casseroles, soups, and crockpot cooking.

Navigating The Grocery Store

how to save money on groceries Fruits and vegetables are found in the produce area, frozen foods aisles, and in the canned food aisles. Compare prices between fresh and canned or frozen items to find the best deal.

Buy produce in season when it is usually less expensive and at peak flavor. Make sure you buy only what you can use before it spoils. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are a good, healthy choice when fresh produce is not available. Choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. Buy frozen vegetables without added sauces or butter, and frozen fruit without added sugars, because they add calories and cost.

Grains can be found in many areas of the store, including the bread, cereal, snack, pasta and rice aisles. Try to make at least half of your grains whole grains. Check ingredient lists and pick the items that have a whole grain listed first. Whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, and whole rye. Choose hot cereals like plain oatmeal or whole grain dry cereal. Switch to whole grain snacks, like whole-wheat crackers or air popped popcorn.

Proteins can be found throughout the entire store. They are in the fresh meat case, frozen foods section, dairy case, and canned & pantry food aisles. Some great low cost choices include kidney beans, split peas, and lentils. how to save money on groceries

To keep your meat costs down, buy the family sized or value packs and freeze what you don’t use. Choose lean meats like chicken or turkey. When buying ground beef, make sure it’s lean (90% lean 10% fat) ground beef. Seafood doesn’t have to be expensive either. Canned or pouch packed tuna and salmon store well and are a low cost option.

Dairy foods are in the refrigerated and pantry aisles. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk. They both provide just as much calcium as whole or 2%, but have fewer calories. Buy a larger container of plain yogurt instead of individual flavored yogurts and mix in fruit for flavor. When it comes to cheese, look for “reduced fat,” or “low-fat” on the label. Don’t forget the eggs! They are easy to prepare and are a great source of protein. Always check the sell by date to make sure you’re buying the freshest dairy products.

There is no magic formula for how to save money on groceries. Like anything else, it takes a little planning, creativity, and work. But if you think of the rewards—better health and saving money on groceries—you’ll find it’s worth the effort.

Healthy Shopping List


Stay Organized with a Healthy Shopping List

healthy shopping list

Eating healthy on a budget is easier if you use a shopping list. Make sure you have your weekly meal plan done before you start your grocery list so you'll know what you need to buy. There are good healthy and economical choices in every aisle of the grocery store. Here are some tips on putting together a good grocery list and sticking to it through all the distractions and temptations you may find at the grocery store.

  • Use your weekly meal plan to create a list of groceries that you need to buy. Don’t forget to include vegetables, fruit and milk that might not be part of a recipe but are basics for healthy eating.
  • Write your grocery list down. You can write it on a pad of paper, enter it into a computer or use a free mobile grocery list app. Keep an ongoing list in your kitchen and add items as you run out.
  • Organize your grocery list so shopping is quick and easy.
  • Avoid impulse buying. The best way to avoid impulse buying is to be prepared before you go grocery shopping. Make your list and stick to it!

Get Organized Before You Go!

Look in your freezer, pantry and refrigerator and see what you have on hand. You can save money by using these items in some of your meals for the week. Research some recipes that use specific ingredients so you can make use of what you have on hand already.

Make sure to set aside enough time for planning meals, making your grocery list, and shopping. Rushing through these important chores will cost you time and money in the end. Include healthy snacks as well as main menu items on your list. Consider the time of day and the day of the week that you grocery shop. Grocery stores are usually the least busy early in the morning and in the middle of the week. Try to avoid the first day or two of the month as this is when many people receive pension or paychecks.

Essential Items to Have on Hand in Your Kitchen

The first step to eating healthy is to stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthy meals in a hurry, and that are easy on your budget. Here are some of the kinds of things you should have on hand.

  • Beans and lentils, either canned or dried, can be used to make nutritious, hearty soups, and can also be a healthy side dish with the addition of fresh vegetables.
  • Brown Rice is a great addition to leftover meat and vegetables. Although brown rice is slightly more expensive than white, the additional nutrition it contains makes it well worth the extra cost.
  • Pasta is quick and easy to prepare as well, and can be combined with vegetables, meat, or a fresh salad. Try adding some extra ingredients like mushrooms, spices and herbs to a good, store bought pasta sauce. Choose whole-wheat pasta whenever you can.
  • Soups are great for nutrition and convenience, especially since you can use canned or packaged soups as your base, then add your own vegetables and leftover meat. Experiment with the flavor by adding your own herbs and spices.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit should be bought at least once a week, preferably in season for the best taste and nutrition. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy alternatives when fresh varieties are not available. Some form vegetable should be eaten with every meal, and fruit makes a quick, nutritious snack.
  • Meat and fish can be kept on hand for healthy budget meals. Try tuna and salmon in the pouches – they keep better after opening than cans, and look for inexpensive cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles.
  • Condiments add flavor and diversity to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices and curry powder, along with marinades, vinegars and various sauces in your cupboard.

So get started on that healthy shopping list, it'll save you time and money at the grocery store and will keep you on track to healthier eating.


Meal Planning on a Budget

Weekly Meal Plans

meal planning on a budget

Before you make your grocery list, write down the meals that you want to make for the week. By having a meal plan and shopping for the week you’ll end up making fewer trips to the grocery store and buy only the items you need. Your meal plan is a key ingredient for preparing your shopping list and being able to stick to it when you get to the grocery store.

Have a look in your freezer, pantry and refrigerator and make a note of what you have on hand. You can save some money by using these items in your some of your meals for the week. Find a few recipes that use these ingredients so you can make use of what you already have on hand.

Do a little research and find some recipes that you want to try. You should be able to come up with some ideas for healthy and low-cost meals based on what you have on hand, what your family likes, and foods that are good buys. If you have some traditional meals that you prepare for your family, try making them a little healthier by adding fresh produce and spices. You could even grow your veggies and herbs in a family garden if you have room for one. Herbs will grow nicely on a sunny window sill.

Look at your schedule and pick meals that are easy to prepare on busy days and save the recipes that take longer for your days off.

The Grocery List

Use your weekly meal plan to create a list of groceries that you need to buy. Don’t forget to include vegetables, fruit and milk that might not be part of a recipe, but are some of the basics for healthy eating. Write down your grocery list, or put it on your computer or a free mobile app. Keep an ongoing list in your kitchen and add items as you run out. Try to organize your grocery list to make shopping quick and easy.

Read More About Healthy Shopping Lists

Make sure that you set aside enough time for planning meals, making your grocery list, and shopping. Short changing yourself here will cost you time and money later. Include healthy snack ideas, as well as main menu items. Consider the time of day, day of week, and even week in the month that you grocery shop. Grocery stores are usually the least busy early in the morning and in the middle of the week. Try to avoid the first day or two of the month as this is when many people receive pension or paychecks.