How Do I Begin to Eat More Healthy?
If you like many have promised to eat more healthy, we have some tips to begin a new journey toward a healthy lifestyle. One place to start is the USDA Choose My Plate. As you can see by the image it is an easy to visualize meal plan and even a child can pop in the right foods into the spaces. But is there more to it?
Medical advisors like those from Harvard agree that the My Plate concept is a good one. They however have added a few improvements, such as a bit more protein, a little less grains, water as a preferred beverage, and making sure exercise is a priority. Here is Harvard’s version of the same concept, called Healthy Eating Plate:
That said, good advice that isn’t always easy to follow. Here are three easy tips to help you fill up your plate with the good stuff.
- Plan Ahead. Begin with a planned out weekly grocery list that include meals with at least 75% fruits and vegetables. If you fill your cart with vegetables and fruits that you need for specific recipes, you are most likely to use them throughout the week and you are less likely to watch them wilt and brown in the fridge. It’s also easier on your wallet if you plan ahead. For more ideas on meal planning, click here on Fruits and Veggies – More Matters, Meal Planning.
- Eat Both Cooked and Raw. Some vegetables are more nutritious when cooked, others are better when raw. According to Scientific American, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage and peppers have a higher nutritional value when cooked. For instance, when tomatoes are cooked for 30 minutes, lycopene levels are enhanced by 35%. Light steaming for other vegetables listed here retains the beta-carotene and other antioxidants. Raw broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane that can block the proliferation of cancer cell growth. However when broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are cooked, the heat activates an organic compound called indole, which kills precancerous cells before they become malignant. There is no one answer to raw or cooked, so the best advice is to eat both.
- Grow, Shop and Cook Together. When kids are involved in growing, shopping and cooking they eat more fruits and vegetables. As the weather cools, consider an indoor garden. Take a look at Back to the Roots indoor gardens for kids (they make great wholesome four-ingredient cereals too). As for shopping and cooking, every night might not be feasible, but a family cook along one night a week is doable. This is an opportunity to teach children culinary skills and integrate healthy eating into their daily routine. Let them plan and shop for the menu. You might learn something too by following these ideas from Epicurious, publishers of Bon Appetite:
- Show kids why and how to shop the perimeter of the store for the freshest and healthiest foods.
- Read and compare nutrition labels to teach what makes a healthy choice.
- Bring math into the mix by setting a budget.
- Take your children to other places to buy food, such as farmer’s markets and farm stands.
Make the shift to eating more fruits and vegetables – your body will thank you and reward you.