The basics of healthy eating and good nutrition are the same for most people; choose healthy foods most of the time and limit the amount of unhealthy foods you eat. One of the best things you can do to eat healthier is to spend more time in the kitchen. Cooking at home saves you money, and with the need to stay home due to coronavirus, now is the perfect time to focus on cooking healthy meals at home.
When you follow a pattern of healthy eating, it can lower the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, supply the energy needed to be physically active and concentrate, provide essential vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy, and help to 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 some small changes you can make to become healthier:
- Eat and drink less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy.
- Vary the type of proteins you eat.
- Eat whole grains.
Learn to plan your meals ahead of time while making sure you include selections from each of the five food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein. Make a grocery list so you can get the items you need and not forget important ingredients. Also, get in the habit of reading food labels while shopping. Reading food labels will tell you how many calories you’re consuming and if the food has nutrients you want more of, or too many ingredients you want less of such as added salt or sugar. With food labels, the closer the ingredient is to the top of the list, the more there is in the product. Look for foods that list whole grains as the first or second ingredient after water.
Set yourself up for success by making small changes one at a time. For example, add one serving of vegetables to every meal, try a new cooking technique such as roasting, substitute whole-wheat pasta in your recipe or swap out meat once a week for a plant-based protein, such as beans.
Cooking together at home as a family allows you to enjoy more family time together and keep it interesting. Home delivery meal kits that are healthy have also become a popular option for busy families. Sneak healthy food into your meals by adding grated vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, and carrots to casseroles and sauces. Use pureed fruit for sweet toppings rather than sugary syrup.
Healthy cooking at home can help to reduce obesity and control portion sizes. For more information on healthy eating and nutrition, along with recipes, visit Henry County Medical Center’s website at www.choosehcmc.org. For video instructions for many recipes, go to our YouTube Channel: youtube.com/henrycomedcenter.