Bee Healthy

Bee Healthy: Making Meals Healthier

June 6, 2014 

Do you run into resistance when you try to serve healthier foods to your family for meals and snacks?

Healthful eating can be a challenge when you are cooking for others, especially if there are picky eaters in the family. Making good food choices and controlling portions is important for managing weight and preventing diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems.

All members of the family can benefit from eating balanced, nutritious foods. Healthful meals and snacks that focus on vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats are good choices for the whole family.

Healthful food doesn’t have to taste bland, and you don’t have to eat the same thing over and over. There are many healthful yet flavorful foods and recipes to choose from.

It can be challenging to juggle everybody’s likes, dislikes and reluctance to trying healthful foods. Here are five helpful tips to get the cook in your family started:

• Start with small changes. Add one or two healthier recipes into your weekly rotation.

• If family members resist trying new recipes that are “healthy,” avoid introducing new dishes as such. Once they try it, if it tastes good, your family will probably eat it.

• Start adding a healthful side dish to dinner each night. For example, when serving cheeseburgers, pair them with a side of grilled asparagus or baked sweet potato fries.

• Involve family members in planning, shopping and cooking. Even young children can help pick fresh herbs from their stems, or do other simple tasks. Family members are often more receptive to new foods when they have a say in the menu and/or help prepare a meal. It also gives you an opportunity to teach them about the best food choices.

• Serve fresh fruit as dessert. Strawberries, ice-cold watermelon or fresh peaches can be very refreshing, especially on hot summer evenings.

For more tips, go to www.choosemyplate.gov. You’ll find information about healthy eating and increasing physical activity for all ages.

Collins is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.

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