We live in a tricky nutrition world these days. You want to be healthy, but the steps to take feel really overwhelming. You post a simple Facebook post about wanting to get your health back on track and 87 well meaning comments later, you’re so overwhelmed that a quick trip to Sonic feels like the only reasonable response.
Feeding yourself and your family well is really not all that complicated. But it feels like an insurmountable task because wading through the sea of health related advice and products out there to get to some kind of plan that makes sense is that complicated… it’s crazy complicated. Like, this dietitian wants to run and binge watch Chopped while eating Blue Bell straight from the carton instead of facing the interwebs sometimes complicated.
This past week, as I’ve been talking to moms about feeding their families well (see my latest class on Raising Successful Eaters), one main theme has emerged. Moms are stressed out. They want to be healthy and have healthy kids but they don’t know where to start. Is the answer supplements? Or shakes? Or a gazillion smoothies a week? Should they try paleo? Or vegan? Or should they only buy organic produce from the farm down the road? Is a trip to the grocery store against the rules? And what about Chick-fil-a… cause seriously, how’s a mom suppose to make it through Thursdays without Chick-fil-a? And don’t even get me started on the documentaries…
The truth is, people have been doing just fine with this whole eating thing for a really, really long time. It’s gotten very complicated as of late and I dare say that our complication of the matter has caused a lot of problems. If you LOVE to research all things nutrition and have a good knowledge base that allows you to understand the research and wade through the murky waters, then by all means, go for it! But for the rest of you who just want to eat a decent dinner in peace tonight, I’m gonna try to break it down for you. I’m gonna give you a few, healthy nutrition guidelines to hang your hat on. This isn’t fancy or exciting (because good, sound nutrition just isn’t). But, hopefully it will bring you some peace.
So, here you go…
Nutrition 101 for the weary soul
1. Serve the foods you enjoy and want your kids to learn to enjoy. There’s a variety of ways to feed a family well. If you want to be vegetarian, go for it. If you love the farm-to-table movement, then more power to ya. If a rotisserie chicken, some rolls and some frozen veggies is the best you can do, then go you – you got dinner on the table and that’s something to be proud of. Your presence at a family meal is more valuable than the specifics of the food you serve.
2. Do your best to include all of the follow into each meal or snack:
- At least one fruit and/or vegetable
- Some source of protein
- Some form of grain or starch so everyone feels satisfied
3. Keep in mind that variety is the key to good nutrition. The average person can get all they need through a well balance diet with decent variety. So, avoid restriction when possible. And chances are you don’t need a bunch of supplements unless you are trying to address a specific issue (enough folate & iron while pregnant, Vitamin D because you tested low, etc.)
4. Make sure the majority of what you eat is real food. Real food is food that either came from the ground or had a mom. If most of the food that you eat would not be recognized as food by your great grandma, then try to add some real food to your diet. This isn’t a hard and fast rule to stress about. There is certainly space in a well balanced, healthy diet for some “fun foods” – just take a look at what you’re eating and make sure there are plenty of real foods included.
How about you? Has your quest for health left you confused and stressed or do you love researching all things diet and nutrition?