As a working parent, you might be thinking of efficient and effective ways to make your family live healthier. As much as you would love to be in control of what everyone eats, you can only do so much given the limited time you can spend in the kitchen. What is even more demanding is that nutritionists say proper dietary practices differ across ages.
This is why this simplified guide was made. As a busy parent, you only need to know the basics of what constitutes a healthy diet for everyone in the family. Keep reading!
Before anything else, it is important that you understand that finding the best diet is impossible. Why? Because it does not exist. Each person has unique compatibility with food. What works for your neighbor’s family might not work for your family. That is the undeniable work of genetics. But don’t worry because everyone generally follows the same basic rules for a healthy life. Let’s discuss them one by one.
The Staples: Vegetables, Fruits, Whole Grain, and Legumes
Simply put, your family’s daily food intake must always consist of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Nothing extraordinary right? A proper diet, across all ages, always goes back to the basics of good nutrition.
Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to staying healthy. Whole grains like oatmeal are rich in fiber that aids metabolism. When you have a good metabolism, you perform significantly better than those who don’t.
Legumes or the bean group are a great source of proteins for the body. Not only do proteins help the body function optimally but they also speed up the body’s healing and repair system.
Suppose you are one of the people who just can’t like vegetables but you want to raise children who genuinely love them. In that case, you can encourage your child as early as infancy to eat peas, carrots, and squash. As your child grows, follow the recommended serving of vegetables to ensure he or she (and even you) gets the maximum benefit.
Learn From The Food Pyramid
Experts say that we do not need the complex food pyramid because we only need the staples: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. In school, we learned about the food pyramid which has meat and dairy in it. But as we grow older, we learn that people who regularly eat meat and dairy likely suffer from chronic and oftentimes irreversible illnesses. While it may be impossible to give up on steak and ice cream, eating them in moderation can increase the quality of your family’s health and nutrition.
Eat the Rainbow
The colors of fruits and vegetables are not merely for visual purposes. They also teach us an important lesson about nutrition. The red pigment of a tomato is attributed to lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin and lowers the risk of cancer. The orange color of carrots is due to its 𝛽-carotene which strengths the immune system and improves vision.
Similarly, the yellow color of citrus fruits contributes to the supply of Vitamin A and C that does wonders for our vision and immune health. Green leafy vegetables bring fiber to the body while making bones stronger. Finally, the range of blue to violet color present in berries powers up brain function and aids in healthy aging.
Rethink Bacon and Saturated Fats
Bacon is a favorite of many people, especially for breakfast. But if you are aiming for better nutrition, then it is high time that you and your family lessen the intake of bacon and other fatty foods. Like butter, the oil from bacon solidifies in cold temperatures. This means that it is full of saturated fats that are not good for your family’s health. Saturated fats put a person at great risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
Pro-tip: Use coconut oil or vegetable oil when cooking as they contain fewer amounts of saturated fats than other types of oil.
Take Vitamin E from Natural Sources
Vitamin E can be a key player in giving you and your family good health and sharp memory. It is an antioxidant that is especially involved in eliminating free radicals that hinder the efficiency of the brain. Did you know that people who ate around 8 mg of Vitamin E per day cut the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease by half?
Note, however, that relying on store-bought Vitamin E capsules is not a sustainable solution. There are eight forms of Vitamin E that have specific functions to aid health. What you get from capsules is just one form of Vitamin E that when taken for a long time, reduces your ability to absorb the other forms. The best way to get Vitamin E is through the different nuts and seeds that naturally contain every type of it!
Give Importance to the Gut Microbiome
Did you know that the bacteria present in the stomach are being recognized as a person’s “second brain”? Experts discovered that gut bacteria influence the body’s health and functions as much as the brain does.
The gut microbiome helps in digesting food better, increasing immune system defenses, and controlling brain function. It was also found to reduce psychological distress and depression.
The gut microbiome begins its work as early as infancy. Read more on how you can improve your family’s gut microbiome here.
What Staying Healthy Means
Time is the best and most valuable gift anyone can give. By showing up in important moments, we tell our family how much we love them. To afford giving time, one must value staying healthy. After all, health determines how much time we can spend creating special moments with our family.
These dietary practices can help you and your family achieve your health goals. But they merely serve as guides. Your family’s health still largely depends on how committed you can be to leading them to make healthier decisions.
TEDx Talks. (2016). Power Foods for the Brain | Neal Barnard | TEDxBismarck [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_ONFix_e4k&t=583s
TEDx Talks. (2016). What is the best diet for humans? | Eran Segal | TEDxRuppin [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z03xkwFbw4