Creating a Healthier Food Environment

The saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” is true when it comes to making better food choices. Eliminating visible reminders of less healthy options can reinforce those choices and create a healthier food environment in your home.trailmix

Start by storing smaller quantities of snack foods out of sight and reach. Keeping these foods visible can lead to excessive eating and unwanted pounds.  Use snack baggies to divide snacks or buy single-size serving portions. Try to eat processed snacks less often, not every day. Better yet, reach for options like nuts and seeds, homemade trail mix, or pickled vegetables for a savory treat. Whole fruits or low-fat yogurt can satisfy a sweet tooth.

Plate sizes have increased over the years from 8 1/2 – 9 inches in the 1960’s to a current size of 11 – 12 inches or more!  Trick your eye into accepting smaller portions and controlling how much you eat by using a smaller plate. Continue to read food labels for recommended serving sizes, and use your hand and other everyday objects to measure portion sizes. Eventually you will be able to eyeball foods and know the appropriate portion. Here are a few visual comparisons to help you get started:

  • One serving of meat or poultry is the palm of your hand or a deck of cards
  • One 3-ounce serving of fish is a checkbook
  • One-half cup of ice cream is a tennis ball
  • One serving of cheese is six dice
  • One-half cup of cooked rice, pasta, or snacks such as chips or pretzels is a rounded handful, or a tennis ball
  • One serving of a pancake or waffle is a compact disc
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter is a ping-pong ball

You can continue to enjoy family dishes and cultural favorites, just eat less or make healthy ingredient swaps. Keep finding ways to cut solid fats, salt and added sugars, and make small shifts like trying different foods and using cooking methods like baking and grilling. Our recipe portal is filled with quick and easy meals, including remakes of traditional favorites.

Finally, a screen-free, home-cooked meal around the dinner table promotes positive social skills, quality family time and nutritious food prep. Agree to ban cell phones and other electronic devices from the table, store TV trays and turn off the television. Eating healthy meals together as often as you can, but at least once a week, will help you control the ingredients in foods. You’ll also be spending quality time together and catching up on each other’s day.

Over time, you will begin to see how these healthful habits prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes as well as increase you and your family’s overall health. To experience optimal benefit, include being active in your daily routine. Not only does it improve digestion, but you will also feel better, sleep better and burn more calories. Put healthy back in your sight!

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