You Have to Start Somewhere
Excerpted from The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers
Have you ever run across one of those diet and nutrition books that tell you what you're not supposed to feed your family or make you feel guilty every time your child eats red meat, dairy, refined white flour, sugar, or salt? While the advice may be well-meaning, it's often downright ridiculous!
Let's get a few things straight. To be a Meal Makeover Mom, you will not have to recite the health benefits of niacin and zinc, nor will you be required to plant an organic vegetable garden in your backyard. Improving your family's diet doesn't have to be time-consuming or complicated. In fact, it can be a lot of fun. You just need a starting point.
Not Perfect, But Better
According to research from the USDA, most children between the ages of 2 and 9 eat a diet that "needs improvement" or is "poor." In fact, only 36 percent of 2- to 3-year-olds and less than 20 percent of 4- to 9-year-olds eat what the USDA would consider a "good" diet. It's easy to see why. At mealtime, children are more likely to eat French fries than any other vegetable, and most school-age kids don't eat anywhere near the recommended minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Today's youngsters consume half of their daily calories from fat and sugar, thanks in part to fast food and soft drinks. In fact, on average, children get 10 percent of their daily calories from fast food alone. Okay, you get the picture.
So where do moms begin? Well, for starters, we suggest you take small steps toward positive change. To do this, we advocate diet additions and trade-offs. Here's an example of an easy addition: Instead of banning frozen chicken nuggets from your household, you can still offer the nuggets, but now you'll be sure to also offer a vegetable or fruit on the side (see No-Nonsense Nuggets, page 276, and Moms' Best of the Bunch, page 54). For a healthy trade-off, swap the soda pop your family may be drinking with dinner with a fizzy mixture of 100-percent fruit juice and seltzer. If your family's diet is currently at "not so good," consider working your way to "not perfect, but better." Take it slow -- one week at a time. Once you nail down one change, move on to the next. By the end, you'll have five new food habits to smile about.