Food choice and learning to deal with stress rather than using food for comfort are essential to eating right. Always choose whole fruit for snacks and desserts and consider adding fruit to your salad. Add beans, peas and lentils to salads, soups and main dishes and try to eat more red, orange and dark green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli. When using canned fruit always choose fruit canned in water or 100% fruit juice and choose canned vegetables with no added salt. Frozen fruit and vegetables are always a good choice as is whole grains for bread, rolls, cereal, bagels, crackers, pasta and rice. Always check to make sure whole grain is first on the ingredient list.
When choosing your protein for a meal, consider substituting seafood, peas, beans and nuts instead of animal protein. When an animal protein is chosen make sure it is 90% lean and trim and drain fat from the meat.
Salt intake must also be managed. Sodium is often hidden in foods. Canned vegetables are often high in sodium. Always choose no salt added canned vegetables. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,500mg of sodium. The amount of sodium needed per day varies by age. Estimated intake allowances include the following: 1 to 3 years: 1,500mg; 4 to 8 years: 1,900mg; 9 to 13 years: 2,200mg and 14 and up: 2,500mg. Packaged, processed, restaurant and fast food options are high in sodium. Avoid salty snacks and always choose low sodium products.
The golden rules for healthy eating include choosing a luncheon plate rather than a dinner plate for your meals. Half of the plate should be for fruits and vegetables. One fourth of the plate should be for your whole grains and the rest for your protein. Meat should be considered a garnish rather than the main part of your meal. Consider serving low fat cheese and low fat yogurt for two of your three recommended servings of milk products per day and the serving size for milk is only four ounces. Never drink sweetened drinks. The sugar intake for 12 ounces of soda is 10 teaspoons (40 grams) of sugar. The recommended intake of refined sugar per day is 16 grams for children and 32 grams for adults.
Serving sizes must be understood or portions often are over-sized. A serving of cereal, potatoes, pasta, rice or vegetables is equal to a closed fist or computer mouse (1/2 cup). One serving of leafy vegetables is equal to a baseball or a cupped hand (1 cup). A deck of playing cards or an iPod is the size of one serving of fish, poultry or beef and a checkbook is the size of one serving of a fish fillet. A CD case is one serving of bread and a thumb or two 9 volt batteries is equal to one serving of low fat cheese. A thumb tip or a pair of dice is equal to a 1 teaspoon serving of high fat foods such as mayonnaise or peanut butter. Two handfuls of baked chips or pretzels or one handful of nuts are equal to one serving. The recommended servings per day are 3 to 5 vegetables, 2 to 4 fruit, 5 to 10 whole grains, 3 protein and 3 dairy products.
By following these simple rules you can be a healthy food model for your child and your child will eat right.