Healthy Eating Tips for Busy Families

Guide to Buying Local, Seasonal Produce

In Food, Healthy Eating by Alicia S. Hyatte, MSW, LCSW, CIHC0 Comments

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(Last Updated On: March 18)

Keeping your diet full of fruits and vegetables is a key ingredient to maintaining a healthy eating plan.  Your goal should be to incorporate an abundance of fruits and vegetables in your everyday meals.  But how? For many people (especially kids) the thought of eating 5-6 servings of fruit and vegetables every day is not achievable or appetizing.  Here’s a trick.  The easiest way to achieve this is to mix things up and fill half  your plate with these foods at every meal.

How to Get Veggies Into Your Diet

Opting for local produce is a great choice, especially when it’s fresh and in season. Fresh, local produce is typically full of fiber, low in calories, and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  So going fresh is always a good decision when it comes to healthy eating.  And you might see a better response from the kids when you serve up fresh, flavorful, and colorful veggies rather than out-of-season, flavorless foods.  When you get fruits and vegetables that are harvested at the peak of ripeness, you end up with a more flavorful plate and denser nutrients.  When produce is picked prematurely and trucked or shipped great distances, not only will the flavor be lackluster but you’ll also be missing out on nutrients that can rapidly decline when food is in storage.

Where To Shop

Instead of the supermarket, head out to the local farmer’s market.   Get the whole family involved in planning and picking out the family’s groceries for the week.  Buy in bulk too!  If you find a great deal on a particular item that your family enjoys, buy in bulk so you can wash, dry, and freeze them for meals in the weeks to come.

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When you shift your attention to foods that are in season, you’re promoting a diet that is diverse and keeps your plate interesting from season to season.  You’re also better able to eat the foods that your body needs to maintain optimal functioning.  Another added benefit is you’re reducing the family’s grocery expenses when you buy local, in-season produce as they typically cost less than out-of-season produce that has to be shipped and stored.

In-Season Aligns With Your Body’s Natural Needs

By eating in-season food, you’re putting your body and eating habits in alignment with the bounty that nature produces.  In the winter, citrus fruits are readily available and are packed with vitamin C helping us to boost the immune system. Winter vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli and spinach, are know as “comfort foods” and are perfect for stews, soups, and casseroles.  Spring is a time when you can find many detoxifying foods like asparagus, beets, and celery, while Summer produce like peaches, plums, and cherries often carry extra beta-carotene that protects us against sun damage and are cooling for the hot summer weather.  Mother nature definitely knows what she’s doing!

Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits

The key is to maintain healthy eating habits throughout every season.  If kids seem to have an aversion to veggies, get them involved in choosing the menu and jazz things up by keeping a variety of fruits and vegetables on hand.  This will keep things interesting!  Even if they have a “favorite” food they may eventually get bored of it, so offer variety at each meal and make mealtime fun.

Here are some more tricks to sneak more veggies and fruit into the family’s diet:

  • Buy large quantities.  Buy in bulk at farmer’s market and freeze appropriate portions for future meals.
  • Think local when selecting produce.  You’ll find that not only are they fresher, but the cost is lower too.
  • Get colorful.  Color is a great indicator of the amount of variety in your diet.  If everything looks the same, you probably aren’t getting the range of nutrients your body needs.
  • Let everyone participate.  Normally when we have a choice about something, we’re more likely to be satisfied and follow through.  So let the kids pick out their veggies and mix-and-match items to make their plate a rainbow.

It may seem like sticking to a healthy diet for the whole family can be difficult or time-consuming, but once you make a conscious effort you’ll have everyone on board in no time.  Follow these tips to have healthy, nutritious, local and seasonal meals your whole family will enjoy.

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