Guest blogger Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE and Mom, has developed a great guide to help busy moms make the right choices at the grocery store.
Preferred for All Foods
Organic, sustainable, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, short ingredient list, artificial color- free, preservative-free and no added sugars.
Whole grain bread, free of high fructose corn syrup, and a short ingredient list. Aim for more than 3g of dietary fiber per slice.
Focus on fiber, aiming for more than 5g of fiber per serving to help satiate the body, less than 8g of sugar per serving, and no more than 35g of carbohydrates per serving.
Portion is key. Look for a package that contains about 5 grams of fiber for every 2 ounces of whole grain pasta.
Choose fruits that are slightly smaller than the rest of the bunch since most fruit is slightly larger than a serving.
Make sure that processed foods like crackers, chips or cookies have less than 2g of saturated fat per serving, 0g of trans fat and more than 3g of fiber per serving. Sugar should not be one of the first 3 ingredients on the list.
Choose 90% lean or more regardless of the type of meat (chicken, turkey or beef).
Include deep-sea fish such as salmon, bass, and tuna (preferably wild or sustainable) at least 2 times per week.
TV dinners should contain less than 600mg of sodium per serving and between 14 and 21g of protein per serving.
Buying individual bags of almonds and other nuts can prevent you from snacking on too many handfuls of this healthy yet fatty food. Ideally, munch on 6-12 nuts with fruit or greens. If you really love nuts, you can boost this number to about 20-25.
Now that you’re armed with a simple mom-friendly grocery guide, you may be wondering how you can teach your children about this healthy food. First and foremost, I highly discourage anyone from labeling food as “good,” “bad,” a “treat,” “special,” or even “junk.” Giving food a concrete value can result in negative food associations. For example, if you teach a child that cookies are bad, and they eat one, then they will have been bad too.
Instead, I encourage moms to identify food as food. You have foods that need to be eaten daily, sometimes and less often. Certain foods have either more or less nutritional value. If my son asks for a cookie, for example, and he hasn’t eaten his dinner yet, then I explain that he needs to eat something with more nutrition in it, like hummus, mango or chicken. I also explain why: that you need to eat foods that are high in nutrition to grow and to be strong and fast. In other words, cookies are okay on occasion, as long as they don’t interfere with your child meeting their daily nutrition needs.
It is fine to use the word “healthy” when speaking in general terms, but when referring to a specific type of food, it is better to identify it using the terms “high nutrition” and “low nutrition.” Try to set a good example for your children by purchasing everyday foods for your home, while allowing them to have sometimes foods (foods lower in nutrition) every now and then, when they’ve otherwise met their nutrition needs. This varies in each household and depends on each child’s individual needs. On average, one sometimes food a day is fair.
The next time your child asks if the food on their plate is healthy, think of these guidelines. Think about whether the ingredients promote heart health and whether they are low in added sugars, preservatives and artificial colors. When you answer your child, explain why some foods needs to be eaten daily and are healthy rather than giving them a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Telling your child that chicken is high in nutrition, high in protein and helps to make your muscles strong is far more beneficial than simply brushing them off with a one-word answer.