Whether you are making your family breakfast, providing your kids with an after-school snack or looking for some healthy options to eat at the office, it’s important to have foods that are nutrient-dense in order to stay energized all day long.
The food pyramid on a plate
If you’re over 30, you’re probably familiar with the term “food pyramid,” a not-so-easy-to- implement multi-colored info-graphic illustrating recommended portions of five food groups.
MyPlate™ has done us all a favor and converted the food pyramid into a more familiar dinner-table-friendly image.
Four colorful sections define four of the five food groups (dairy is illustrated as an important side dish). Fruits and veggies occupy half the real estate, while grains get the better part of the second half shared with protein.
Another element not easily noticed is the size. A 10” plate is the perfect diameter to give you the nutrition you need without going overboard…controlling portions mindlessly.
Schools have taken the concept to the lunchroom, adapting MyPlate™ to the squares of a lunch tray. These visuals easily remind us to fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables first to get the most out of eating time.
On the go breakfast
Healthy food choices are the key to helping your kids power through their homework assignments and after-school activities. When making breakfast, reach for protein and fiber. These choices will keep them feeling full longer. Carbohydrates are easy to digest and give you quick energy. Protein on the other hand takes a little longer to digest, thereby providing energy when the carbohydrates are gone.
Get the morning nutrition you need with some quick and easy breakfast ideas.
- Prepare for success. Stock your shelves with healthy breakfast items such as hard-boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, fiber-rich muffins, nuts, low fat cheeses and whole grain breads.
- Take 5. Sit down to eat, even if only for 5 minutes. No time to eat at home? Pack your breakfast and take a few minutes to eat at your desk before digging in for the day.
- Add some zip. Liven up your breakfast routine once in a while. Play your favorite music, eat a yogurt parfait from a fancy glass or enjoy your morning meal on the patio.
- Include kids in the preparation. Picky eaters are more likely to eat a meal they helped prepare. Keep a few kid-friendly whole grain tortillas or crepes in the fridge to fill with fruit, sliced meat, cheese, peanut butter, cream cheese or eggs.
Snacks often get a bad reputation, but snacks are an important part of your diet. Nourishment between meals fuels the brain, aids in avoiding overeating at mealtime and boosts stamina and endurance, which can improve concentration and athletic performance.
Making healthy snacking choices doesn’t have to be a struggle. Tackle poor eating habits a little at a time. Mindless eating or eating when bored, stressed or as a reward can lead to overeating. And hungry people tend to eat whatever’s easiest. To get the most out of your afternoon pick-me-up, consider stashing some healthy snacks in the backpack or your work place. Look for better-for-you choices in the vending machine, such as nuts, granola bars or dried fruit. Other simple things to keep snack time healthy:
- Place healthy snacks within eye sight.
- Slow down. Eating too quickly or while distracted or multitasking hinders the brain’s ability to receive the “I’m full” signal.
- Be a matchmaker. Pair proteins with carbs to make the most of your snack time.
Need some inspiration? Check out the Healthy Eating Resource Page for snack recipes and other ideas for home and work.