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Helpful Healthy Eating Hints For Busy Parents

Contributed by: News Canada

(NC) - The prevalence of obesity or overweight children (and adults) has been steadily increasing in Canada over the last ten years. Obesity is a known risk factor for many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, gallbladder disease and cancer. Canada's cold climate and hectic lifestyle may be two of the leading contributors as many Canadians seek out quick meal fixes and find themselves less active during the cooler winter months. Maintaining a healthy eating routine and, in turn, encouraging their families to eat healthier is one way that parents can take an active stance in the fight against obesity.

According to Bev Callaghan, registered dietician and a mother of three, one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy eating routine is to ensure that the entire family eat a variety of foods daily from each of the four food groups (grain products, vegetables and fruits, milk products and meat and alternatives). To keep children healthy an emphasis should be placed on whole grain cereal, such as bran flakes or oatmeal, whole grain bread as well as other grain products. In addition, introducing more vegetables and fruits to diets will improve health and supply enough energy for daily activities. Children (and adults) need snacks in addition to three well-balanced meals each day. Parents should:

  • include two of the four food groups at snack time

  • include three of the four food groups at mealtimes

  • include foods that are nutritious, fun and great tasting

  • always stock the kitchen with healthy food choices

  • encourage healthy, trans fat free, low fat snacks such as Grissol Melba Toast or Rounds for after-school munchies

  • provide smaller portions of healthy snacks such as: fruit, yogurt, air-popped popcorn or veggies and dip

Making food fun and helping children to develop good eating and exercising habits while they are young can assist in preventing future health concerns. Try some of the following snack ideas that can help make the food preparation process a fun one for everyone involved.

Fruit Kabobs

Get the kids to scoop melon balls while you chop up pineapple chunks and cube peaches, pears or apples. Supply frilled toothpicks, add berries or grapes and help them create their very own fruit kabobs

Mini Sandwich Crunches

Make mini 'sandwich crunches' using Melba Toast or bite-size Melba Rounds, a selection of lunchmeats, egg or tuna salads and/or cheeses such as low fat mozzarella or light cheddar. Add veggie sticks or thin slices of cucumber and tomato and have an old-fashioned tea party

Pizza Triangles (or Rounds)

No kid can resist pizza! Pizza doesn't have to be loaded with fat - it can be a perfectly healthy snack. Depending on kids' appetites and how close it is to dinner, they can use an English muffin, a whole wheat pita or tortilla, or a bite-size Melba Round as a pizza crust. Let them smear on a bit of bottled tomato sauce, sprinkle it lightly with low fat mozzarella cheese, and top with chopped vegetables, and a little bit of lean meat if desired. Heat for a few minutes in the toaster oven or microwave, and then cut the pizza into teeny-tiny triangles or leave whole for extra kid-appeal.


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