March – Mind Your Food!
If you learn to read nutrition labels, you will have a much better basis for making healthy choices. It's not just about the label though, you also need to read the ingredients list. If there are more than five or six ingredients, OR if your third-grader can't read the ingredients, then it's probably not a wise food choice.
- Look at the serving size (Are you really only going to eat five potato chips?)
- Note how many calories are in each serving. Now multiply that to a realistic serving.
- Aim for a high amount of fiber. It will help move digestion and will balance blood sugars.
- Sugar has many sneaky names....use the chart below to educate yourself.
Mind the Pyramid
- Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. Our favorite nutritionist says, "The more color, and the more variety, the better."
- Save a quarter of your plate for whole grains—not just any grains. Learn more about why you should pick whole grains.
- Pick a healthy source of protein to fill one quarter of your plate. Some proteins (fish, chicken, beans, nuts) are healthier than others (red meat and processed meat).
- Enjoy healthy fats. Limit butter, and avoid unhealthy trans fats.
- Drink water, coffee or tea. Limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day and limit juice to a small glass per day. Skip the sugary drinks.
- Stay active. Since two out of three U.S. adults and one in three children are overweight or obese, one thing is clear: Many of us have been choosing plates that are too large.
In Death by Food Pyramid, Denise Minger exposes the forces that overrode common sense and solid science to launch a pyramid phenomenon that bled far beyond US borders to taint the eating habits of the entire developed world.
Organic Vs. Non-Organic
It's become very trendy to mark everything "organic" these days. But what's the big deal? And what's the difference between "100% organic," "made with organic ingredients," and just plain "organic?"
Organic produce is grown without pesticides, radiation, sewage sludge, GMOs, or synthetic fertilizers. Organic meats are raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, or non-organic feed. If a boxed meal is "100% organic," then all ingredients are organic. If it is "made with organic ingredients," then 70-94% of the ingredients are organic.
Buying organic means spending more - but you can pay the farmer now, or pay the doctor later! It costs more because :
- Organic farming is more labor intensive.
- Farmers don't receive federal subsidies.
- Farms are smaller than conventional farms.
One way to know about the food you are eating is to grow it yourself. Purchase organic seeds and then seeds after harvest for next year! For more information on GMOs and organic food, check out Joel Salatin's books.
4 Reasons You Should Cook at Home
You'll make better choices.
Vegetables look much more appetizing when you're standing in the middle of the farmer's market than when you're staring at a fast-food menu. Instead of being led by pretty menu pictures, you'll make something that's better for your body. After all, healthier choices at the market lead to healthier meals at home.
You'll eat fewer calories.
People who cooked meals at home at least six days a week consumed fewer calories than those who frequently ate out, a study published recently in the journal Public Health Nutrition found. You probably have no idea what's actually in that restaurant meal you're eating. Do they use olive oil or vegetable oil to cook the meat? Is there added sugar in the sauce? What about food coloring? Is the spinach organic or covered in pesticides? How much salt is in that soup? All of these add up to lots of extra calories!
You'll know what's in your food.
Restaurants don't always give every single ingredient, and occasionally substitutions are made. But when you're cooking the food yourself, you know exactly what went into it. You also know what your family's needs and concerns are. As an added bonus, you will know whether those ingredients are organic or not, since you purchased them.
You'll find it's easier than you think.
Start simply -- with a breakfast smoothie or one dinner a week. Then build up your repertoire. Don't try to imitate your favorite "Top Chef" until you've gotten some experience with the basics. If you can read, you can cook!
Start freezer cooking to save some time. Devote an entire day to cooking enough meals for a month. Purchase all of your ingredients on one day and spend the next day cooking from sun-up to sun-down. (Here is a basic introduction to freezer cooking.) Yes, you'll be tired, but your freezer will be stocked with enough meals for you to enjoy several weeks of low to no-prep dinners (and breakfasts, too!).
Freezer Cooking Resources