Commit to Healthy Eating in 2010
Eating healthy, nutritious meals takes planning, commitment and discipline. Let's face it. Your home is not a Denny's, where your kids can order up what they want like you were a short-order cook. So, start the new year with a commitment to healthy eating by getting your kids engaged and empowered in the process.

What's in the Cart?

Your first clue to how well you're doing in the nutrition department can be found in your grocery cart. Is it full of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food, or is it overloaded with soft drinks and snacks that are nutritionally empty? If you'd like to upgrade your family's diet, start by upgrading what you're buying.

The first step is to make a shopping list. It's good idea to plan meals ahead of time so you're able to focus on just what you need to buy. Your list should be heavy on wholesome, nutritious ingredients such as fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, fresh fish, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Menu Planning

Get your kids involved in the menu and meal planning process. Encourage them to pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try. Also, explain how to read labels on food, which might include high levels of sodium, trans fats and sugar.

The American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that families with children shop with these guidelines in mind:

  • Eat vegetables and fruits every day.
  • Limit juice intake.
  • Use vegetable oils, especially those high in monounsaturated fat such as olive and canola, and soft margarines that are low in saturated fat and trans-fatty acids instead of butter, shortening, or most other animal fats.
  • Eat whole-grain rather than refined-grain breads, cereals, pasta, and rice products.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods in your family's diet.
  • Use nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products daily.
  • Eat more fish, especially oily fish that is broiled or baked.
  • Reduce salt.
Grow Your Own

If you really want to engage your children in the nutrition process, create a vegetable garden together. Growing vegetables with your kids is likely to encourage them to eat more vegetables, too, which might help those fussy eaters.

Try a growing a pizza garden, which could include oregano, basil, onions, parsley, sweet peppers and tomatoes. You can even grow the plants in the shape of pizza by planting in circular wedges. The pizza garden is a fun project that is educational too. Plus the whole family can get involved from start to finish - planting, picking to pizza making.