Here are a few things I learned while making Food, Inc. that might be useful to your family. Take what you can from these tips, but more importantly, I hope you will begin to feel that you have more choices than you might be aware of.
- Limit your family's consumption of soda or candy.
They are loaded with unnecessary calories and absolutely zero nutrition. Save these treats for special occasions a few times a year.
- Read labels on packaged and canned foods.
If you see a number of ingredients you can't pronounce, think twice. Author Michael Pollan says, "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
- Try to buy "whole foods" that have not been processed.
Things like fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and poultry, fish and whole grain breads are good options.
- Prepare meals at home as often as you can.
Your family budget will go further. Try cooking in bulk on the weekends. Big pots of beans and rice are a perfect protein combination that is very economical. Also, spending time with your family at the dinner table is a wonderful way to check in with your kids. The time you spend there could be the most valuable of all.
- Find out what's on your children's school menus for lunch and breakfast.
Improving the food options available to growing children is something we can all support. Sign the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization petition and support providing healthy food choices in our nation's schools.
- Suggest starting a vegetable garden at your local school.
This will help nutrition and healthy food become a topic of daily discussion and will reinforce the messages you are trying to teach your family at the home level.
- Check out the Let's Move program, featuring first lady Michelle Obama.
This site is loaded with facts about healthy eating and information on where to get healthy food in your community.
I am asking you as parents to question what is in the foods you are buying at the supermarket or fast food restaurants. Is it healthy for your family? Would your great-grandmother recognize it? Or is it loaded with sugars, fat and sodium?
Read the labels and read the facts. Decide what is right for you and take action every day to make your life and your family's life healthier. Your family's health is up to you, and you are the one who has to lead the way in breaking this unhealthy eating cycle.