Family Nutrition - Healthy Diets For Adults &
What does "family nutrition" mean, exactly?
nutrition means teaching and encouraging eating attitudes and behaviors
within the family unit. Every family has nutrition habits. The concern
is whether the habits taught and encouraged are healthy or unhealthy.
Since every family member is unique and has different nutritional
needs, each individual's needs should be considered in the family
nutrition plan. The combination of needs will often mean that certain
family members will need to focus on special areas. For instance,
in a family with one child who is underweight and one parent who
has diabetes, the child will need to focus on eating adequate portions
of healthy, high-calorie foods, while the parent will need to focus
on appropriate portions for diabetes treatment.
Why is family nutrition important?
Families often focus nutrition changes on family members who have
a health problem or a certain athletic focus. But good nutrition
is important for everyone, and the family unit is the perfect place
to build a healthy foundation for every member. Good family nutrition
helps everyone in the family to be healthy and happy. Since we know
that good nutrition helps prevent disease and increase quality of
life, good family nutrition will benefit the whole family in this
way. It is also possible that good family nutrition will reduce
the incidence of obesity and disordered eating, including eating
disorders like anorexia and binge eating.
How do you start your family's nutrition on the right track?
Here are ten tips:
- Start with healthy nutrition in infancy. Breastfeeding is the
best nutrition for babies 0 to 6 months old. If you've chosen
to feed your baby infant formula, be sure to use clean water,
mix it properly, and wash the bottles well.
- Encourage everyone in the family to eat three meals every day
plus a couple of snacks. This will help keep the digestive system
regular. Eating five to six times per day also helps the body
to better distinguish between hunger and fullness. When you wait
too long, your body will feel hungry, even after you've eaten
- Eat as many meals together as possible. Try to eat at least
one family meal every day, even if it's breakfast. Whoever is
home at meal time should be sitting down together to eat. Families
that eat together generally eat healthier and know more about
what is happening with their children.
- Offer a variety of foods from all of the food groups: grains,
vegetables, fruits, dairy, and meat/protein. Learn about the Food
Pyramid. Be sure to have foods available that meet a variety of
preferences in the household.
- Choose low-fat foods and whole grains. Read food labels! Look
for total fat around 3 grams or less. Choose 1% or skim milk;
they have the same nutritional value as 2% or whole, just much
less saturated fat. Whole grains, like wheat, bran, and oat, help
keep your digestive tract healthy and help keep cholesterol low.
- Remember that drinks have nutrition, too. Low- or non-fat milk
and 100% fruit juices can be great choices to help meet nutritional
needs. Sweet teas, juice-flavored drinks, and sodas add only sugar
to the diet.
- Keep empty-calorie foods out of the house. Occasionally buying
candy or soda can be fine, but constantly having "junk food"
in the house only allows everyone to eat it. You can also have
small treats when you eat out, as long as eating out is not part
of your usual routine.
- Encourage healthy habits. Praise your children for choosing
healthy foods and eating right. This can make adults feel good,
- Discourage unhealthy habits in a constructive manner. Try not
to humiliate one family member for overeating or skipping a meal,
but discuss the behavior in a loving, supportive way. Teach children
not to tease each other about eating habits.
- Seek medical attention when needed. Don't be afraid to ask your
doctor questions if you are concerned about your loved one's nutrition
habits or health, especially if it is a child. If you need help
with your family's nutrition, find a registered dietitian. Dietitians
specialize in food and nutrition, and some of them even specialize
in family issues.
Remember not to dwell on the past! Move your family forward into
more healthy living, and start with a good nutrition plan.