How to Be a Healthy Eater

Rachel Strickland, 31

Mom of Elizabeth, 20 months

Rachel has a demanding job as an attorney and spends all of her free time with her toddler, so her nutritional needs are a low priority. "I rarely eat breakfast, lunch is hit-and-miss, and our family dinner is usually Chinese or Mexican take-out," she explains.

The Real Diet Dirt

What good are you to your family if you're always hungry and low on energy? "You have to put yourself and your needs first when it comes to food," Bauer says. "Eating a well-balanced diet will give you the fuel you need to care for your child and do your job-and it will boost your immunity." Those aren't the only reasons Rachel needs to be selfish when it comes to mealtimes. "She needs to set a better example for her daughter," Bauer says.

Her Eat-Right Action Plan

  • Make mealtimes important. Rachel needs to turn dinnertime into a family ritual. Bauer recommends that she try to cook dinner at least once a week. The family also needs to make mealtimes more relaxing. "Dinner isn't supposed to be something you rush through," Bauer says.
  • Graze on the go. Rachel is often too busy to prepare meals, so Bauer gave her some suggestions for eating on the run. "Eat a piece of fruit and a small yogurt for breakfast, or try peanut butter smeared on wheat bread." For lunch, Bauer recommended a slice of pizza topped with vegetables. Finally, Rachel needs to incorporate two small, calcium-rich snacks into her schedule, such as a cup of low-fat cottage cheese, string cheese, or a skim latte or cappuccino.
  • Get your fill of fiber. "Veggie-based soups like tomato and minestrone are a no-fuss, high-fiber option," Bauer says. If Rachel's ordering Chinese or Mexican, she should opt for chicken and broccoli or steamed vegetables, or a bean burrito-sans the sour cream and cheese.
  • Pump up the water. Rachel drinks about 40 ounces of diet soda a day. "Not only is that amount of caffeine unhealthy, but the phosphorus in soft drinks leaches calcium from your bones," Bauer explains. Instead, Rachel needs to down at least four glasses of water throughout the day.

One Month Later

"I used to hit a wall in the late mornings and the midafternoon when I'd feel sluggish and tired," Rachel says. "Just eating more and drinking lots of water made me feel so much better." And she's found ways to sneak in meals even when she's tied to her desk at work. "I keep instant oatmeal on hand and make it with skim milk," she explains.

Copyright © 2005. Reprinted with permission from the April 2005 issue of Parents magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment