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Sunday, January 10, 2010

No Time Like the Present - Eating Healthier in 2010

By Guest Blogger, Amy Hatley

So, it’s that time of year when everything we read (including this apparently), or see on TV, talks to us about resolutions. The truth is for us busy moms---who has time to wait until the beginning of the New Year to make a change for ourselves or our kids? We often do it when we see a need and we begin to feel passionately enough about something to commit to long-term change.

My soap box for the last 6 years has been better nutrition for my family. But, as many a great media outlet has uttered, “Everything in moderation”. We’re all learning along the way. My view is that we try to take what we learn and make small changes a little at a time...

Over the years I’ve steadily improved my exercise regimen and diet. Was I once a Kool-aid drinking, Twinkie-munching, couch potato? Oh yes!! As with all women, I learned a bit over the years. Some disasters (NEVER try Spamloaf!), some successes (anyone can make a casserole), and some great advice (like it or not, sometimes your sister IS right)…these all can lead to some truly great transformations.

One stumbling block to healthy living is affordability. We all know junk food is cheaper unfortunately. The one thing we must consider is the cost of getting sick due to poor health (those co-pays can really add up!).

Here are a few ideas that have helped me make some small changes over the years that have helped us live healthier lives while still not breaking the bank.

1)Veggies – most kids hate ‘em but we all know they need ‘em. Some recommend covering them in cheese. Not a bad idea occasionally for a LITTLE cheese, but getting kids too used to that increases the fat content and then it’s back to being a bad food choice again. After all, we’ve all heard the rising statistics on childhood obesity these days, right? Instead of cheese on a regular basis, try mixing them with the other food on their plate, or use some different spices. Another option to consider is to buy fresh or steam fresh bags instead of canned. The steam bags are really easy, super affordable and provide more vitamins than canned due to avoiding the mass heating process at the plant that the canned variety goes through.

2)Fruits – also buy these fresh when possible, but spoilage is an issue, so many people opt for fruit cups or cans to give their kids a serving. The thing to be aware of here is the amount of syrup used in these varieties. Syrup is hard for the body to break down and is loaded with sugar (often times artificial sweeteners). Any high content sugar that cannot be broken down or processed will be stored as fat. If your kids aren’t crazy about fruit, a good occasional option is a weekend smoothie. Try using honey instead of sugar. The kids won’t know you’ve made the substitution, and being a natural sugar, it will break down easier in their system (be careful of allergies though!).

3)Sugars – speaking of sugar, the first 2 things my Pediatrician told me to avoid in foods for my son were hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Both are altered forms of their natural sources, therefore your body has difficulty processing them, and they either are stored or cause our organs undue stress as they work to expel them. The best analogy I can think of is a car with old oil. Your car will break down long before its time with bad oil. There are a ton of options these days for cereals, condiments, potato chips, juices and even cookies that are made without these additives. Once you work a few replacements into your shopping list a little at a time, you’ll be hooked!

4)Drinks – our family rarely buys sodas anymore, and believe me, we used to put away more than a few. I never thought I would get used to water or juices, but there are once again, many options now for flavored waters without a ton of calories or corn syrup, as well as juices. Some great juice options are: apple, grape, pomegranate blends, cranberry blends (straight pomegranate and cranberry juices can often be tart so blending with other fruit flavors is a nice option). Orange is good but often has a lot of sugar. Some doctors recommend watering down juices slightly to reduce the sugar level (and it helps stretch out their life cycle, hence reducing how often you buy them!).

5)Labels – lastly, as annoying as this can sound….READ LABELS. It gets easier as you get to know the “good brands”, and don’t feel as if you have to read everyone in one trip to the store. Space them out, take your time, but make a commitment to improve your purchases a bit at a time. Also, teach your kids young. If we can brainwash our kids to pull for the home team from birth, then why can’t we instill good eating habits? My son may be the only 5 year-old that can come close to uttering “Mommy, does this have high fructose corn syrup?” (it doesn’t always come out that eloquently). Hopefully he won’t be shunned to the Geek table in school, but you know every time I hear him say it, I give myself a secret “Atta Girl” for doing at least one thing right that day.

Happy Hunting & Happy New Year!

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Beth said...

I TOTALLY need to do this. I feel like my sons eat processed foods non-stop. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Great tips. I think you are right - we start to put so much emphasis on nutrition for ourselves that we forget about the kids. There are some great "substitute" snacks for them as well.

maythi said...

we stay away from a lot of processed foods and it is amazing how many well-priced options are out there. you don't have to go to specialty stores to find natural/organic foods. we do our grocery shopping at walmart and i can find all the same things that i used to buy at HT/lowes for a fraction of the cost. in fact, sometimes walmart even has a better selection of the all-natural/organic foods we buy.
my husband has a gluten intolerance and walmart is the only place where i find his rice pasta for the best price. eating healthy does not have to be expensive at all. thanks for this great article!

Amy said...

Thanks for the kinds words ladies! Sounds like you all have the right frame of mind. Its tough...that's for sure. We all gravitate towards what is easy or the old adage "well if it was good enough for me, its good enough for my kids"...but we know so much more about food processing & additives these days so I think we owe it to ourselves & kids to relook at our diets & try to make some changes for the better! Good luck ladies & thanks again for reading!

Amy said...

This is a different Amy than the one above - guess I should add a last initial some time! Anyway, I have also made a big effort this past year to get my entire family healthier. I used to never check labels on food, but once I started looking ... WOW ... there is some stuff out there that I can't believe is even put on the shelves! Thanks to the "other Amy" for a great post!

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