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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get Your Plate In Shape for National Nutrition Month!!

March is National Nutrition Month! 

You may remember that I blogged about this last year too. You can read that post with some yummy and healthy recipe pictures and ideas HERE.

I have really gotten more into health and nutrition since becoming a mom 3 years ago. This year's theme, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is Get Your Plate In Shape! Love it! Here are some tips that they had for doing that.


1. Make 1/2 of your plate veggies and fruits

There are so many great ways to prepare veggies and to sneak them when you have picky eaters in your family. I like to use Jessica Seinfeld's book, Deceptively Delicious. Recently, I made her chicken nugget recipe with broccoli! You couldn't even tell it was there and my kiddos ate it up. 

If you have an Aldi's near you, check out their fresh produce. The prices are excellent and it always tastes great too. Be sure to bring a quarter for the cart rental and bring your own bags. This helps to keep their overhead low and the prices too! (great for the environment also!)

If you don't have fresh, frozen or dried produce works great. Be sure to read labels to watch for added sodium, sugars, etc. 

I like to steam or saute my veggies with a little seasoning or extra virgin olive oil. I try to stay away from salt. There are so many other great options out there to spice up your food. (garlic, onion powder, cumin, dill, curry, tumeric, etc)

2. Make 1/2 of your plate whole grains

Be sure you are buying 100% whole grain for breads, cereal, crackers, pasta, brown rice, etc. Many times it will say whole wheat but if the first ingredient has the word "enriched", then it isn't 100% and isn't as healthy. More and more, I am seeing high fructose corn syrup listed in bread ingredients. Check for another option if you see this.

3. Fat-Free or low-fat milk

Calcium is so important for bone  and teeth health. Bone loss begins at a very early age so be sure you are getting enough. If you are not, it is a good idea for adults and kids to consider taking a good quality calcium supplement.   My kids like the chewables.

4. Protein!

It is the building block of all cells. You can vary your protein options with seafood (at least 2x per week), nuts, beans, lean meat, poultry and eggs. Did you know that if you combine whole grain rice with beans, it becomes a complete protein? We love beans in my family so I buy many kinds. You can save money by buying dried beans. It is more time consuming as you have to soak them for a long time before cooking, but you can control the salt content and spice them to your preference. They can cook all day in your slow cooker.

My family also starts the day with a good quality protein powder in a shake, oatmeal, milk or juice. It really helps to fuel our day and I don't find myself hungry again for a very long time.

5. Reduce sodium and added sugars

I wrote a blog about using natural sweeteners last year. They are a better option to sugar. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer as well as weight gain! So natural is always better. Fresh fruit is also a great choice for dessert. 

6. Eat less, move more!

Exercise is so important. I have to really make an effort to prioritize it my own life for it to happen. It is suggested that kids and teens get 60 or more minutes per day of exercise or physical activity and adults get at least 2.5 hours per week. This could include taking a brisk walk. I try to take advantage of the ondemand exercise workouts from our cable television. They have some great 10-15 minute workouts that I can work into my day during my kids nap time.

Although I try my best to eat right and to feed my family healthy foods, I know we are not always getting everything we need from our food alone. In order to fill in the gaps in our diet, my husband and I take good quality supplements every day that come from natural food sources. My kids love their childrens vitamins too and my 3 year old will remind me to give them to him if I forget:)! They help us to feel great, have more energy and stay healthier. My boys have never had an ear infection! And I can honestly say that since I have been taking these vitamins and protein powder for the last year and a half, I have never felt better or had more energy. (that says a lot considering I am chasing a 19 month old and 3 year old all day! lol)

The last thing I would like to add is - everything in moderation! I have a horrible sweet tooth. So if I try to cut all sweets and things that aren't as healthy from my diet, I will not be able to do it. I try not to have the temptations in the house at all so I go to the grocery store when I am not hungry but will allow myself some treats once in awhile.

For more information on National Nutrition Month, please click HERE.

I think that does it for this post. I hope it was informative to you. Please feel free to share any extra tips you may have. I would love to hear.
Thanks for reading and have a healthy day!


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