4 Ways to Build Balance in the Kitchen
Nutrition can easily be over-complicated. Here are some ways to keep it balanced in the kitchen to set you and your family up for success.
1 – MAKE A LIST AND SHOP AS A FAMILY
Planning is almost never convenient, but use a few minutes to plan meals for the week. Including your kids in meal planning is a great way to introduce them to all the different ingredients that go into their foods and you’ll be able to stay on top of what foods everybody likes, or doesn’t, this week. Maybe you can even get them excited to try a new fruit or vegetable this week. Once you have your meal ideas you can take inventory of what’s available and write a list to ensure you don’t forget anything while shopping. If you are more of an “off the cuff” kind of person, a list can help ensure you maintain staple food items to make meals throughout the week. Always be sure to include the following: grains, preferably whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa, barley, pasta, bread), seeds (chia, pumpkin), nuts (walnuts, peanuts, cashews), proteins (eggs, yogurts, cheeses, meats/fish, nut butters) and fan favorites fruits and veggies.
2 – PREPARE / COOK AS A FAMILY
Creating an experience in the kitchen can last a child a lifetime. It can provide the foundation they need to one day be able support themselves, as scary as that may seem. Measuring ingredients for recipes can also help them think critically by using math and reading skills at home. When children are involved in the cooking process, they are more inclined to try them.
3 – ENCOURAGE ALL FOODS
All foods, pending intolerances and allergies, can fit into you and your children’s lifestyle. This being said, it’s important to educate yourself about the different food groups and the role each food group plays in providing your body’s energy. Lean proteins and dairy provide proteins, vitamins and minerals. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are carbohydrate sources (yes, really) that provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Evidence shows that incorporating at least 3-4 food groups into each meal keeps us feeling satisfied for longer. The Plate Method is my personal favorite way to be sure I’ve included all the food groups. Aim to make ½ of your plate fruits and vegetables, ¼ of your plate lean proteins (tofu, beans, fish, poultry, seafood, or lean red meats) and ¼ of your plate to be whole grains (whole wheat bread, pasta, rice, quinoa). Of course, always keep a handful of dark chocolate chips around for dessert.
4 – EAT AS A FAMILY
Research shows that eating as a family creates healthier habits in a child’s life. It provides them a platform to chat about their days instead of being distracted by a TV screen. It is important to make the same meal for everyone. Avoid using food as a reward. Something as seemingly harmless as “Sally, eat all of your green beans and I’ll let you have ice-cream” can cause a lifetime of believing deserts are a guilty pleasure instead of a delicious treat.
Remember to start slow when incorporating these tips. See what works best for you and your family.
Tara Moran is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist that helps parents like you create and maintain sustainable wellness. She is the owner of Nutrition Thyme and is based in Long Beach, California. You can learn more about what Nutrition Thyme can do for you by booking a free introductory call at www.nutrition-thyme.com. Follow Tara on Instagram (www.instagram.com/nutritionthyme_withtara/)