In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.
I have to say that I am happy to see that more families are trying to find healthier solutions for their meals and snacks. The downside to this though, is that advertisers have also noticed this and have started to put a spin to products to make them appear healthier to boost sales. Some of the blurbs they put on packaging can make things appear to be “good for you” when truly, they are not. So how does one truly know if something is healthy or not?!
I’ve taken a big leap over the last few years in putting more focus on reading ingredient labels. I’ve gotten in the habit of avoiding foods with ingredients that I don’t understand and/or foods with very long lists of ingredients. I’ve been trying to “Google” ingredients in products to see if those things may be harmful or perhaps just some natural preservative that I haven’t heard about. In the process, I’ve been basically building up my own education of what to eat and what to avoid. While I am by no means any food expert, I am happy at how far I’ve come on my own.
Here are a few ways I’ve brainstormed to help continue on the path of healthier meals and snacks for my family:
1) Make the core of all our meals “real food” with items that come as much from nature as possible with extra focus on in-season produce.
2) Continue to buy the majority of our meats and produce through farmers, either directly or at the farmer’s markets. When the markets close, I’ll shop at healthier stores like Whole Foods Market or Fruitful Yield for some of our necessities.
3) When grocery shopping, stick to the outer edges of the stores as they tend to have the healthiest foods. As soon as you step into those middle aisles, it increasing the chances to find impulse buys on unhealthy foods.
4) Continue to read the ingredient list on new foods that I want to try. Stick to short ingredient lists and ingredients that I understand. Continue to research anything that I don’t understand on products that could be potentially unhealthy.
5) Keep a food journal for at least for a month, to see how healthy (or unhealthy!) we are currently eating now. Make sure to pay attention to any vitamins/nutrients/minerals that we are lacking and search for more foods high in those items.
6) Look for more resources that emphasize healthy meals. (Resources such as websites, books, cookbooks, magazines, etc.) A few I currently recommend are:
a) Clean Eating, Vegetarian Times and Weight Watchers magazines. Good resources for recipes!
b) Organic Gardening website. Great way to incorporate items into the garden.
c) Whole Foods Market website. I’ve found several great new recipes there and the latest on healthy/unhealthy foods
d) Nutrition Action Healthletter – No ads and just pages full of great tips! One of my faves!
7) Set limits on our snacks. It’s amazing how fast just a little snack here or there can add up to an unhealthy amount of food throughout the day. Also watch how many new snacks are open at once. This can lead to waste and over-snacking.
8) Make healthier snacks more readily accessible and visible. We often tend to eat unhealthy just because it seems faster than stopping for two minutes to cut up some fresh veggies.
9) Set up a meatless day each week in our menu to get more variety into our diet and save money. This will help to incorporate things like tofu, beans, etc. into our diets.
10) Work more crockpot meals into the monthly meal plan. There are so many healthy recipes out there that rely on the longer cooking times rather than unhealthy oils, breadings etc to add more taste to the meal. I can also use it as a tool for making more homemade things, such as crockpot applesauce or homemade yogurt.
11) Continue to look for coupons and savings on Organic and healthy items and stockpile any that I can.
12) Continue to do freezer cooking sessions with items that are in-season throughout the year. This will be a great way to keep healthy veggies that are full of taste ready in our freezer (and at the lower price) so they can be added to soups, casseroles, etc.
13) Continue to educate my kids on the benefits of eating healthy and about the importance of moderation with all foods, including “treats.” (I’m hoping to add another part to the “How to Get Kids to Eat Healthier” series soon!)
These are just a few ways that I’ve brainstormed on how to continue to get healthier meals and snacks into our week. In what ways have you found that have helped you eat healthier?
Stay tuned for more posts next week! And as always, thank you for bearing with me when life doesn’t allow me to post things on time. Remember, always put your family first!