With limited time and budget, conflicting nutritional advice and several different palates to please, ensuring that your family has a healthy diet can pose a challenge.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult or costly, according to local nutritional chef and cookery teacher, Nena Foster.
According to Nena, “most families just need a bit of support around understanding the basics of nutrition and a bit of inspiration to think and cook differently using more fresh, whole foods.”
But for some this leap from processed and packaged foods to using more fresh ingredients means not only changing shopping habits, but also upskilling in the kitchen.
When possible, Nena advocates getting the whole family involved.
Based on her experience, the benefits to getting the whole family cooking outweigh any of the negatives – from less food waste to creating more adventurous eaters.
And, “cooking with your kids is not only a great activity and a way to embed science and maths learning it also teaches your children practical life skills”, says Nena.
If you think your diet needs a bit of a spruce and you’re not quite sure where to start, here are Nena’s five tips for improving your family’s diet.
- Eat and cook with more fresh whole foods – fresh foods provide more nutrients and fibre from fresh foods, all of which play an important role in supporting your family’s health.
- Always read food labels – be on the lookout for additives and preservatives, and you want as few ingredients as possible and you want to see more natural, rather than chemical ingredients. Pay close attention to the sugar and salt content and make sure that there are no trans fats (i.e. hydrogenated oils). Food with a long shelf-life often has lots of added preservatives, so it is best to avoid these foods.
- Eat less sugar, particularly refined sugars – sugar comes in many forms, 64 to be exact, so look closely when you’re reading food labels. Some of these forms of sugar you want to avoid (i.e. high fructose corn syrup) but generally, eating sugar sparingly is best for health. Also limit the amount of fruit juice and dried fruit, even though these mostly contain natural sugars, but sugar is still sugar.
- Swap refined carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates – this means swapping your white rice for wholegrain, your white breads and pastas for wholegrain or protein-based alternatives. Serve smaller portions of potatoes and/or keep their skins on. Even opt for sweet potatoes instead.
- Have protein with every meal – we need protein to feel full at mealtimesl and to keep us fuller for longer. A meal without protein can lead to more snacking.
You are interested in finding out more about improving your family’s meals and learning some key cookery skills, Nena is running a series of workshops at The Sunflower Centre in Hilly Fields throughout March and April. For more info and to book, visit www.nenafosterfood.com/events/.
Please note you will need to register before booking. Nena is also offering one place on each workshop for free to a member of the community unable to afford the registration fee.