Food is fuel for your body, and the old adage "You are what you eat" couldn't be truer. Unfortunately, many of us don't pay enough attention to what we put into our bodies. But so many of us are tempted by those great-tasting "empty" calories: the refined or processed convenience foods and fat- and sugar-filled treats.
And why not? They taste great. But they won't help you or your family lose weight, feel better or live longer. Just following a few simple, everyday rules, though, can virtually guarantee success.
Healthy living for the whole family starts with a nutritious diet and regular physical activity. As any parent knows, kids mimic their parents. So here's how adults can set a great example:
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups—fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products and protein. Buy lean meats, poultry, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Have two servings per week of oily fish like salmon, trout or herring. These contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower the risk of heart disease.
- Limit the amount of empty calories you consume in processed foods and drinks like soda.
- Don't consume more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day. Limit your intake of saturated fat and trans fat. Stay away from burgers, fries and milkshakes—remember, your kids are watching! Read labels; for instance, foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils contain trans fat.
- Limit salt (sodium) intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day.
- Women should aim for no more than one alcoholic beverage per day; men can have two.
- Don't smoke, and avoid breathing passive smoke.
- For 150 delicious recipes, check out the American Heart Association Healthy Family Meals (Clarkson Potter, 2009).