Healthy Focus January 2023

What should my family eat to stay healthy?

The basics of healthy eating and good nutrition are the same for each member of your familychoose healthy foods most of the time and limit the amount of unhealthy foods you eat. But healthy eating can be difficult to fit into your family’s everyday busy life, especially when everyone is immediately “hangry” when they walk in the door. Here are some tips on how to make sure your family’s diet is nutritious to keep them healthy now, and throughout their lives.

Why Healthy Eating Matters

When your family follows a pattern of healthy eating, it can:

  • Lower their risk of diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease
  • Give their bodies and brains the energy they need to be physically active and to concentrate
  • Provide the essential vitamins and minerals they need to stay alive and healthy
  • Helps them reach and maintain a healthy weight

Over time, your food and drink choices can make a significant difference on your family’s overall health. Here are five simple tips on how to make small changes to your family’s diet to help them be healthier now and in the future:

  1. Eat and drink less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars
  2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  3. Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy
  4. Vary the types of protein you eat
  5. Eat whole grains

Food Label Fast Facts

Reading labels can help you make healthier choices. Here are some tips on making sense out of food labels:

  • Select foods that list ingredients that you recognize
  • The closer the ingredient is to the top of the list, the more there is in the product
  • Sugar is sometimes labeled as fructose, sucrose and corn syrup, so to reduce the amount of added sugar, avoid foods that list sugars at the top of the food label
  • To make sure your family is getting enough fiber, look for foods that list whole grains as the first or second ingredient after water
  • Fat-free and low-fat food labels don’t mean the food is calorie-fee

How to Sneak Healthy Food into Your Family’s Diet

  • Add grated vegetables like zucchini, spinach and carrots to casseroles and sauces
  • Use pureed fruit for sweet toppings rather than sugary syrups
  • Make fresh dips using pureed vegetables or fruits, flax seed, wheat germ and other healthy additions
  • Use whole-grain breads instead of white
  • Serve whole-grain crackers instead of chips
  • Use whole-wheat flour instead of white

Ready to Learn More? Register for a Free Online Nutrition Class!

Nutrition Classes that focus on heart and lung health are held on the second Thursday, every other month, at Henry County Medical Center in Classrooms 2 & 3. The class is taught via telehealth by Linda Pennington, RDN, LDN, of Dietitian Associates, Inc.

The next class will be held on Thursday, March 9 at 10 a.m. To register for the class, call 731-644-8300.


Sneak Attacks: How to Get More Healthy Food into Your Family’s Diet 

Even the healthiest eaters usually have a few places where they draw the line. Broccoli, perhaps, or the dreaded spinach. But getting more nutritious foods into your family meals doesn’t have to mean full-scale dinner table battles. With a few stealth cooking techniques, you can have them happily eating more green veggies, fiber and whole grains “hidden” inside their favorite foods.

Bring on the Fruits and Veggies

Adding healthier options to what the family already eats is a great way to make a more healthy diet. Try grating vegetables like zucchini, spinach and carrots as a discreet addition for casseroles and sauces, and using pureed fruit for sweet toppings rather than sugary syrups. You can puree pineapple, apples, whatever their favorite fruit is.

Dip It

Fresh dips are also an ideal vehicle for hiding pureed vegetables or fruits, flax seed, wheat germ and other healthy additions. Most kids love dips. They don’t even care what it is. Just the fact that they are dipping something is fun.

Start Slow

The key to successful stealth cooking is to make small changes over time, especially when you’re adding fiber-boosting ingredients, which may take a little time for everyone’s bodies to get used to. Try sneaking in whole-grain breads, even whole-grain white breads for peanut butter sandwiches. Substituting whole grains for white flour favorites like English muffins and baked goods is another easy way to boost nutrition without drawing too much attention. You can even serve whole-grain crackers instead of chips and use whole-wheat flour when you bake.

Make it Tasty

No matter how much doctoring you do to your family’s foods, make sure the finished product still tastes good or you may encounter resistance. As long as their food looks familiar and taste greats, they’re usually fine with it!

Nutrition Counseling through Telehealth

Is improving your family’s nutrition one of your New Year’s resolutions? We’re here to help you reach your goals! HCMC has partnered with Dietitian Associates, Inc. to provide telehealth nutritional counseling for adults and children. Services are available for everyone, regardless of your insurance coverage. Click here for more info.