Feed Your Family Right!

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Coming to you from Chicago attending The Nutrition News Forecast, a conference for the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) Spokespersons' Program. Great stuff going on here. I was thrilled to discover that my dear friend and colleague, Elisa Zied, has just published the fantastic book "Feed Your Family Right! How to Make Smart Food and Fitness Choices for a Healthy Lifestyle". Of course I just had to interview her as this is right up The Fork's alley.

Right out of the gate Elisa says we've got to get out of that mindset of "do as I say, not as I do", i.e. be a good model of behavior for your kids (see it's not just me saying it). She advises us to always "speak positively about food and and fitness. Talk about the benefits" adding "think about what you can do for your health and show this to your kids. Empower them to make healthier choices as early as you can".

And yes the earlier the better because "as they get older you won't have as much influence". But even if your children are in their teen years she ensures "just because your kids are older that shouldn't stop you from trying to make change. There's always room for improvement. It's never too late to stock better food choices in your pantry. " Here here!

So about stocking that pantry...do we remove all the "junk food" and only allow the healthiest items in the door? "You need to be realistic" she says adding "when we deprive our kids of some of the less healthy items we are overvaluing those foods and encouraging them to go outside of the home to get them". Elisa in fact advocates "keep the less healthy foods in the house. That gives them a sense of control over what they can choose" and cuts down on any snack sneaking apparently. She does advise keeping it out of sight and on a higher shelf in the cupboard or refrigerator.

If you've got the less healthy items around how do you curb their consumption besides the "out of sight out of mind" strategy? I asked Elisa how she manages this in her own home. Of course the Zied's kitchen is always stocked with the usual suspects i.e. fruits, vegetables, yogurt, string cheese, whole grain cereals and the like (make these choices visible and accessible to your kids!). But Elisa says her family practices what she calls the "2-1" rule. They can have two smallish fun snacks a day and one reasonable dessert. "You can't take the fun out of food.. but do teach them how to fuel their body and not to overdo it with the treats".

Fueling the body indeed! Elisa also offers tips to help you and your kids promote a healthy body weight. Rather than obsessing over shape and size she recommends we again emphasize how our bodiescan benefit, "focus on what they can do to help them get the benefits they want; things like achieving in sports, having more energy, feeling strong, doing well in school. Always stay positive".

Thank you Elisa for putting such a valuable resource out there. Feed Your Family Right offers basic menu plans, nutrient needs for every age (including adults), and gender, and lots and lots of recipes. To find out more check out her website at ElisaZied.com. Enjoy and as always, I'd love to hear your feedback!

Have a fruit and veggie filled day!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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