To Your Health: The USDA Gets Kids Going with New Guidelines on Food
It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to nutritious, healthy eating. Everyone has heard of the numerous fad diets, but do you know about the six food groups? And, how many servings of each food group should you consume each day?
Every five years the US releases new and updated dietary guidelines. Most recently, the six food groups within the Food Guide Pyramid were rearranged, and the importance of regular exercise was emphasized, to create MyPyramid. Instead of generalizing the needs of everyone into large groups, MyPyramid now takes into account your age and exercise level to create customized nutrition and lifestyle guides.
The interactive website www.MyPyramid.gov is where you can learn more about your food intake needs. A computer game on the website teaches kids about the nutritive value of the foods they can fuel up on, which helps them make healthy choices. It’s interesting for adults, too! A wealth of information on portion sizes, whole grains, tips on reaching your food goals, and the health benefits of vitamins and minerals in different foods is available at your fingertips!
Healthy eating is easy, it will make you feel good about yourself, and it can be fun! Read on for tips to ensure your getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
There has been a surge in whole grain foods lately. Whole grain pasta, bread, tortillas, and even cookies are scattered throughout the grocery shelves ripe for the picking! Just make sure that a whole grain is the first item noted in the list of ingredients. The further down the list it appears, the less its quantity, in the product. For breakfast try raisin bran cereal, a whole wheat muffin, or sweet bread made with whole grains. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. That does not mean that you should double the amount of grains you eat, though. Try replacing your white rice with brown rice, and use whole wheat flour in everyday foods like waffles and gravy.
Your mother told you to eat your fruits and vegetables, and she was right! Brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain higher amounts of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals and keep you healthy. Each fruit and vegetable contains different amounts of vitamins and minerals, so it is important to eat a variety. Carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and other orange fruits and vegetables provide vitamin A, which keeps your eyes healthy. We all know bananas are an excellent source of potassium, but so are peaches, oranges, and honey dew melons. Potassium works with calcium to increase bone strength. Juices are an easy way to get a serving of fruits, but the fiber gained from eating crunchy fruits and vegetables is not found in juices.
Stock your fridge with grab-and-go fruits and vegetables. Bags of baby carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower are all the craze. Toss a bag in your purse to have something to munch on while you do your errands. Apples and bananas are also quick and easy choices. To get more greens in your diet, add spinach or kale to lasagna, salads, soups, and pizza. Change things by making a variety of salads rather than plain lettuce. Try Waldorf salad made with apples, walnuts, raisins, and fat free, Halal mayonnaise. Broccoli and cauliflower florets topped with ranch dressing and green onions are another quick option. And if you’re craving a sweet dessert, indulge in fruit pizza! Spread fat free cream cheese on a cookie and top it with kiwi, strawberry, apple, and banana slices.
Everyone knows we should drink milk for strong bones and teeth. Milk is also an important product if you’re trying to lose weight. You will lose more weight by drinking low fat milk and consuming milk products while you diet than if you didn’t. In addition, you will stay healthier!
Unfortunately, drinking milk is not as common as it used to be. Many people are turning to cheese, yogurt, and fortified juices for their calcium needs. Choose soft cheeses like cottage cheese and ricotta that pack a better calcium punch, rather than hard cheese like parmesan. During the manufacture of hard cheeses, a lot of calcium is lost or made unavailable. Yogurt is a good choice, but to reduce your sugar intake choose plain yogurt rather than flavored yogurt, and add your own fresh or frozen fruits and granola for a crunchy, sweet breakfast.
Most Americans do not have trouble getting enough protein into their diet. However, our protein choices are not always smart. Hamburgers and processed meats can be high in fat. To gain the most health benefits, your protein sources should be varied. Zabiha halal lean beef, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs, and soy are good options.
Fish is a good source of lean protein, and it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the risk of heart attack. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold water fish like salmon and sardines. To gain all the health benefits of fish, eat a variety twice a week. If you are wary of a fishy smell filling your house, tilapia with a splash of lemon is a good choice.
Nuts are excellent for snacking. Tree nuts like almonds and walnuts are your best bet, rather than peanuts, because they are high in vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids, which keep your heart healthy.
Did you know that eggs are the cheapest source of protein? You can safely eat one egg a day and still keep your cholesterol low. Eggs are an excellent choice for breakfast. Their protein will keep you energized and full throughout the morning. An egg omelet filled with peppers and tomatoes is a good way to get your morning dose of protein and veggies in one shot. If your find you are always running too late for breakfast, boil a couple of eggs on Sunday evening and leave them in the refrigerator for a grab-and-go breakfast or lunch. Leave the shells on to keep them fresh longer.
Protein from soy is also easy to incorporate into your diet. Use firm, low sodium tofu in stir fry, or slice it like carrot sticks for a side dish. Soy protein is also used to make a wide array of foods from burgers to “chicken” nuggets. These can be a quick, easy option rather than regular hamburgers, and there is less worry about Salmonella or other bacteria.
The following are some healthy, IFANCA halal certified foods, and their manufacturers, that were mentioned in this article.
Bestselling Kids Cookbook author, Mollie Katzen, recommends carrying a cooler packed with plastic baggies containing nuts, chopped fruits and veggies such as carrot sticks in your car, on days when you’re hustling your kids between activities. “That’s one way to keep out of the unhealthy, fast food lane when your children get hungry,” she says.