Nutrition for a healthy family

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Nutrition for a healthy family includes vegetables and fruits, grains, dairy, and meats and nuts.

Healthy cooking, healthy recipes, vegetarian cooking, and cooking health food in general has a ‘bad rap’ . The general misconception is that healthy cooking recipes, and low fat recipes are just plain boring, tasteless, and bland. That's just not true... healthy and nutritious recipes can be both healthy and tasty. You just have to learn a few simple steps to healthy nutrition.

The average restaurant meal contains 1,000 to 2,000 calories, and 50 to 100 grams of fat! (A normal person's recommended daily intake of calories is around 2,000.) No wonder the diet and weight loss industry is so huge.

The roots of healthy nutrition lies within your control. The truth is, you're in full control of your eating habits. You decide whether you want to cook healthy food at home or dine out, and whether you use more healthy cooking ingredients and less fattening, and processed foods.

A healthy diet consist of four main categories of foods - of course there are some other minor groups. But these four main food groups will provide a healthy diet the bulk of its nutrition.

Ingredients for healthy nutrition include vegetables and fruits, grain, dairy, and meats or nuts.

A healthy diet will serve a good balance of each of the food groups listed. Of course, different individuals will need different amounts of food. Other factors such as age, body size, activity level, gender will also affect the amount of food you eat.

When it comes to feeding your child, it may seem like there are a dizzying number of rules to follow. Your child needs nutrients to grow strong and healthy, but you also have to limit treats and serving sizes so that your child doesn't develop weight and health problems down the line.

Obesity is becoming a common problem in the United States. Almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than half of them get too little physical activity.

U.S. nutrition officials are trying to help out. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created dietary guidelines to provide practical advice on how to give your child a healthy, balanced diet. The guidelines suggest that kids eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than in the past and that they get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

The recommendations are tailored for kids based on age, gender, and exercise habits. You can find out what guidelines are appropriate for your child by logging on to the USDA's Web site.

Choose My Plate is designed to help kids and parents understand the guidelines. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), an organization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was established in 1994 to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans. Toward this goal, the Center focuses its efforts on two primary objectives: Advance and promote dietary guidance for all Americans, and Conduct applied research and analyses in nutrition and consumer economics.

The Center's core projects to support its objectives are the following: Dietary Guidelines for Americans USDA Food Guidance System (MyPlate, MyPyramid, Food Guide Pyramid) Healthy Eating Index U.S. Food Plans Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply Expenditures on Children by Families


The grains group, which includes foods like bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, should provide the majority of the energy your child needs each day.

These foods are high in complex carbohydrates, which are the body's favorite fuel, and give your child the energy to play, pay attention in school, and do many other activities.

Grains also provide other important nutrients such as vitamin B-complex (folate), which helps your child's body use the protein needed to build muscle.

At least half of the grains your child consumes each day should be whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, and rye bread. Whole grains contain dietary fiber that can help protect against diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and also help control your child's weight. They are different from refined grains, such as those in white bread and white rice, which have been processed, and many of the nutrients have been taken out.


Vegetables provide many of the vitamins and minerals kids need for good health, and they provide fiber to aid digestion. So it's important to have a variety of them in your child's diet.

Be sure to scrub vegetables before cooking them. It's best to steam or microwave vegetables, or eat them raw. Occasional stir-frying is OK. Boiling vegetables is also acceptable, but some of the vitamins and minerals will be lost to the cooking water.


Fruits are especially good sources of important vitamins like A and C. This food group also adds minerals such as potassium and fiber, which help digestion. Be sure to scrub fruits before feeding them to your child. It is best to eat fruits raw.


This food group, which includes milk and other foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese, is an important source of vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, and protein.

Vitamin A helps build healthy eyes, skin, and hair. Vitamin D helps your child's body absorb calcium and use it for healthy bones and teeth, along with muscle and nerve functions.

Meat, Fish, Beans, and Nuts

This food group provides your child with protein, which helps your child's body maintain and repair body tissues and build muscle.

Foods in this group also provide vitamin B-complex and iron, which helps build strong bones and teeth and support muscles.

Of course, 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish counts as a 1-ounce serving for this group. In general, the following each equal about 1 ounce:
1/4 cup cooked dry beans
1 egg
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds

Fats, Oils, and Sweets

Fats and oils are essential nutrients to maintain body function but should be used sparingly. Fats help the body absorb vitamins A, D, E, K, and beta-carotene. Even though fats may be needed to maintain good health, it may be a good idea to limit them, since they still contain calories.

Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like the vegetable oils that are commonly used in cooking. Oils can come from many different plants and fish. Some other common oils include olive oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil.

Some foods are naturally high in oils, like nuts, olives, some fish, and avocados. Most oils are high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. These fats raise your child's level of (good) HDL cholesterol, which seems to help prevent heart problems, and do not raise levels of (bad) LDL cholesterol, which can lead to heart problems.

Solid fats, like butter, shortening, and margarine, contain more saturated fats or trans fats, which can raise (bad) LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and increase your child's risk for heart disease.
Fats shouldn't be restricted in children under age 2. The developing brain and other organs of the young child need a certain amount of fat for proper development.

Sugars are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream to provide your child a quick dose of energy. It's a good idea to limit the amount of sugar you feed your child from candy, sweets, and other foods. That's because the body stores the extra sugar it doesn't immediately need as fat. That can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Nutrition.Answers.comis a page dedicated to food and healthy lifestyles through better food choices. The articles are written by Dr. Nina Franklin, who has her PhD in Nutrition. She is without a doubt an expert in the field of nutrition and the articles that she writes for Answers are very well-researched and written

Other Resources:

Obesity and Children with Special Needs

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