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Although there is an abundance of food in the west when compared to many other areas of the world, many people are still nutrient-poor due to their lifestyle choices. Much of those choices are influenced by the huge marketing campaigns of food giants, such as McDonalds, and other fast food chains.
However, more stringent laws are forcing these companies not only to offer more healthy alternatives, but to also include the nutritional information on their produce. In theory, this sounds like it will be helpful, but in actuality people are more likely to be swayed by an enticing picture of food rather than the nutritional value it holds. Having a fast food meal is fine on occasion, but unfortunately many people are making it their staple diet, and that means obesity is growing due to the amount of fat and sugar these meals contain.
If you couple that with the fact that people are taking less exercise, thanks to the wonders of modern science (computers, laptops, televisions, etc) and this is a recipe for disaster. This means that although people are living longer than they used to, they are also having to deal with more and more illnesses and diseases caused by poor nutrition during their formative years. Therefore, it should be a priority to educate yourself about the nutritional values of foods, and if that is not possible, having a vague idea of foods that are good for you and foods that are not.
What foods should my family eat?
Cereals in general are good for you as they contain whole grains and vitamins and are usually low in fat. Try to avoid cereals that are loaded with sugar though. Honey is OK, but in moderation.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are always good for you. You just need to find the ones you like, but don't overdo it on any one type. Mix and match if you can on a daily basis. Although the recommended average is 5 a day of either, most people do not reach that quota and as long as you are having some you are doing fine. It is best to avoid processed or tinned fruits and vegetables as these have very few nutrients and some even have additional sugar added. Some people advocate steaming the vegetables rather than cooking them in water, but either way is fine. If you have a child that is a bit fussy don't completely avoid the vegetables as their tastes will change, so persevere.
Meat and fish form the basis of a good diet, but by meat I mean freshly cooked chicken, pork, lamb, beef, etc. These are easy to cook as casseroles or stews if you don't have time to dedicate to cooking. This means you can have vegetables and meat prepared together and place them in the oven to cook slowly. Some people also use a slow cooker and leave that all day so it is ready for when they get in from work. This is a much better idea and it ensures you have a range from the food groups. You can always quickly cook rice or potatoes to go with the casserole.
Beans and pulses are a food group that many people don't use, but you can easily use these as casseroles too, and that will greatly increase your nutritional intake. Tinned baked beans are highlighted as forming part of your five a day, but bear in mind that they also contain sugar!
Chips, burgers, pizzas, kebabs, takeaways, etc. are all acceptable as a treat once in a while but not every day. Their nutritional content is minimal and their ill-effects on the body are high. However, as these are all specially prepared to appeal to taste, rather then common sense, it may be difficult to stop eating them at first, particularly if you are used to buying them on a regular basis.
However, like many other things, this is also a habit, and habits (although easy to fall into) can always be broken. Your family may not thank you for stopping this practice immediately, but in the long-term, their health will improve, their weight will lessen and maintain at the lower rate and they will have more energy. What's better than that, folks?
Hi, I am Sam Walters, a wellness blogger with focus on nutrition and exercise based fitness regime. I also recommend taking up a good gym membership if you are really interested in keeping fit.