Healthy living doesn’t begin with annual check-ups with your doctor or a regular exercise routine; it begins with proper nutrition and portion control. What we consume ultimately decides how well or how poorly our bodies and minds will function. What we feed our kids must be able to support their brain and body development. Mac’ and cheese and hotdogs may be cheap and tasty but they lack the nutrients necessary for your child’s growth.
Eating healthy on a budget is tough, especially when you have several mouths to feed. Unfortunately, we can’t always afford the food that’s best for us so we’re stuck having to work with what we’ve got. This forces us to make sacrifices that can significantly impact our health. Instead of fresh veggies we choose frozen, white bread instead of wheat, and cheese so processed that you could leave it outside for days and it would go untouched. We should all have access to proper nutrition so I have come up with some tips that will help you and your family eat healthy on a budget!
Learn to cook. Yes, I said it. No more frozen entrees for you and your family! It’s time to break out that apron, turn on the oven, and show the world what you’re made of. Now with all that being said, I know it can be hard trying to prepare dinner with little ones running wildly through the kitchen or tugging at your pant legs. Instead of trying your best to ignore them, get them involved! Let cooking together become a bonding activity that will help them understand important concepts like measuring.
Eat cleanly. Check labels and try to only buy foods with ingredients you can pronounce. In fact, choosing items with the least amount of additives is a good rule of thumb. Along with checking labels, make sure to opt for whole wheat and fresh produce whenever you can. Frozen foods have significantly more preservatives and therefore less of the valuable nutrients you and your children need.
Cut back on sugar. Kids eat way too much sugar and it isn’t just because they’re eating candy. Almost every food item directed towards children is packed with unnecessary sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup has almost no nutritional value and is extremely difficult for the body to process. Children receive natural sugar from carbohydrates, which are found in dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables. You can help your child cut back on sugar by replacing sugary juice drinks and pop with water. This is a simple step that can make a big difference!
Start a community garden. Organic produce is always better. Produce that isn’t grown organically is usually grown with preservatives that help keep it fresher for longer. These are known as genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). GMO’s are the reason why the green pepper I bought two weeks ago is still sitting in my refrigerator without any sign of decomposition. Whatever’s in that pepper that’s keeping it from rotting has no business in you or your children’s bodies. If you can’t afford to buy organic, then starting your own garden or one for your community is a great idea! Gardening can teach your kids the importance of healthy eating as well as give them a new appreciation for nature.
Your children know how much to eat. Have you ever witnessed a parent pleading with his or her child to finish their meal? Well if you have or if you’re guilty of prompting little Susie to “take one more bite!” then I caution you to stop. Children usually stop eating when they’re full and to push them past that is to train them to eat whether they’re hungry or not. This is a very unhealthy habit that as many of us may know is extremely difficult to break. Allow your children to make decisions about their bodies based on how they feel. This is the best way to encourage portion control.
Eating well is one of the best things you can do for your body. The food we eat directly effects how we feel and how we perform. Teach your children the importance of proper nutrition now and they will be less likely to pass for it later. These simple tips will make a significant difference in the way your children feel and grow!