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The dog days of summer have unofficially come to an end. School is back in full swing, which means busy schedules, homework and time to get back to planning.
Eating healthy meals and spending time together with your family can oftentimes seem a like challenge if not properly planned. Shannon Jackson, registered dietitian at Wilson Medical Center, gave me some tips on how to maintain a healthy diet when faced with a busy schedule.
• Plan ahead!
This little tip seems rather obvious, but if overlooked, it can really throw your schedule for a loop. Meal planning on the weekend can save lots of time, money and headaches during the week. It’ll even save you a few trips through the drive-thru where you may not make the healthiest food choices.
• Start your day off with breakfast
If you’re hustling and bustling trying to get out of the house for work or to take the kids to school, breakfast may be the last thing on your mind. Plan ahead and make sure you make time to eat the most important meal of the day! If you make healthy choices at breakfast, chances are you’ll continue making healthy choices throughout the day.
• Eat dinner together as a family
Sitting down and eating at the table together is a wonderful way to unwind, listen to your children and really engage with your family. Children can especially reap the benefits; studies show that children who eat with their family make healthier food choices, control their weight and even do better in school.
• Avoid distractions during mealtime (no phones or other electronic devices)
No explanation is really needed for this one. Unplug and keep the phones away from the dinner table.
• If you are hungry, choose a snack from a food group that you have not eaten from today
This is a great way to ensure you’re eating a well-balanced meal. For more information about eating the right types of food, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.
• Get your kids involved! Let them help you plan and prepare
Doing so will help your kids become excited about mealtimes and appreciate them more.
• Most fruits and veggies can be washed and cut ahead of time
Portion them out in small Ziploc bags for ready-to-go snacks. This tip can really help save time and create a convenient, healthy on-the-go snack, or lunch box item. This can also reduce the amount of wasted produce in your refrigerator.
• You don’t have to be perfect; make small baby steps toward eating healthier
Try to set small goals for each week and stay focused on them. Soon, it’ll become part of your routine and lifestyle.
• Pack power snacks for your kids such as healthy trail mix, dried fruits and veggies
After-school or weekend activities may have you running around like crazy. Having these power snacks easily accessible will help decrease the urge to stop and get greasy fries in between activities.
• Don’t be scared to try new things! Make eating fun for your family!
One of my favorite websites to use for simple, healthy and delicious meals is Pinterest. They have hundreds of boards to find some creative meal inspiration!
Did you know Wilson Medical Center’s Outpatient Nutrition Services offers one-on-one consultations with a registered dietitian? To schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians, call 252-399-8900.
Melanie Raynor is marketing coordinator at Wilson Medical Center.