Making Healthy Meal Plans for Your Family

[avatar user=”doller” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=””]by Denisse Oller[/avatar]

With National Nutrition Month kicking off, it’s the perfect time to discuss healthy eating habits, including how to create a meal plan for you and your family that will maximize your health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. In 2015, only 12% of adults ate enough fruit, and 9% ate enough vegetables. In 2013, 9% of adolescents ate enough fruit, and 2% ate enough vegetables. This is incredibly concerning considering that childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s in the United States.

Childhood obesity is considered a health problem because children with obesity are at a higher risk for having other chronic conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. To help your child maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to balance the calories your child consumes from food and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth.

Our DASH Nutrition Plan provides detailed guidelines on how to improve your eating habits and includes tips for your next grocery store visit. Here are a few basic ways you can improve your health:

  • Eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Look for dairy products that are low-fat and non-fat
  • Limit total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Cut back on salt and sugar
  • Eat no more than 6 ounces of lean meat, fish or poultry daily
  • Drink water instead of juice and soda

When creating a meal plan:

  1. Start by grabbing a pencil and paper and list your favorite meals. It might be helpful to talk to your family or thumb through a favorite cookbook.
  2. Use our DASH Nutrition Plan or MyPlate Plan which will show your daily food group targets – what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance. It can help plan your upcoming meals and suggest ways to improve choices.
  3. Once you’ve planned your meals, make a grocery list and take some time on your visit to the store to choose lower-calorie ingredients.
  4. Also, be sure to pick up some “grab-and-go” nutritious snacks such as carrot sticks, apples, nuts or whole-grain crackers.

The recipes that you may prepare regularly and that your family enjoys with just a few changes can be healthier and just as satisfying. Here’s to a healthier you and your family!