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Healthier Food Choices Start at Home

by Pamela M. on Monday, March 10, 2014

The American Heart Association has developed healthy tips, recipes and guides to make it even easier to eat healthier and save money by preparing more meals at home. And what better time for your family to start making healthier food choices than March, which happens to be National Nutrition Month?  

“North Dakotans are busier than they have ever been before. As a result of this, more meals are being consumed on-the-go. ” said Carrie McLeod, Licensed Registered Dietitian.  “Meals away from home tend to be high in sodium and fats while lower in fruits and vegetables, in addition to more expensive than meals at home.  It is important for North Dakotans to take greater control over their health by getting back into their kitchens, which can help lower their risk for heart disease and stroke.”

About 60% of the North Dakota population are overweight and 25% are obese, including nearly 15% of North Dakota’s children are overweight. Childhood obesity has become a major health concern, causing health problems in children that previously weren’t seen until adulthood such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Parents are key to helping overcome this national epidemic.

“We need to be aware of the choices we make in order to start making decisions that lead us to living a healthier life,” ­­­­­McLeod said. “In becoming more engaged to adapt healthy habits, people are able to live longer and spend more time with their families. The best way for parents to lead their children to a healthy lifestyle is to set a positive example themselves. This in turn will help future generations develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits.”

Here are some tips from the American Heart Association to help you and your family start eating healthier:

  • Enjoy meals together. When everyone sits down together to eat, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much.
  • Get kids involved in cooking and planning meals. Everyone develops good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.
  • Eating healthier at home starts with the ingredients you use. Many favorite recipes can be made healthier by substituting ingredients.
  • When you use oils for cooking, baking or in dressings or spreads, choose healthier oils — which include canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower oils.
  • Limit added sugars in your family’s diet. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugars for most of us, so reduce or cut out soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks as well as enhanced waters, sweetened teas and sugary coffee drinks. Drink more plain water instead.
  • Try to reduce the amount of sodium you eat.  If using packaged foods, compare food labels, and choose the product with the least amount of sodium.  Use herbs and spices to add flavor when cooking, instead of salt.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits, whether fresh, frozen, dried or canned. Add them to dishes your family already loves and use them as healthier sides, snacks and desserts. If you choose canned, watch for added sodium and sugars.

For more nutrition tips, healthy recipes and resources to help your family get healthier, visit heart.org/healthyhome.

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