Proper nutrition is quite simple, food writer and researcher Pollan says:
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Also, Pollan says be suspicious of any food that makes health claims.
That's about it. Food is defined as anything that is unprocessed and would have been recognizable to your great-grandmother. Power bars, vitamin water and Lunchables are not food. Eggs with added Omega-3s should be viewed with suspicion.
Pollan goes into detail about the relationship between food and ecology, and gives good solid reasons why everybody ought to eat smaller quantities of better quality food that costs more.
I practice this principle when buying meat. I buy hamburger or stew meat that is grass-fed or organic, and I eat smaller portions. Only rarely do we splurge on a steak (grass-fed and hormone-free). Even then I remember to eat a 3 oz. size portion. But meat-eating isn't my downfall, it's late-night snacking on processed grains (pretzels? Cheerios?) while surfing the internet. Also I don't get enough exercise - ever since I got a car ten years ago. I try to shop on foot and walk 30-35 minutes per day but it doesn't always happen. Sigh.
Anyway - thank you Alison for tipping us to this valuable article.
Related discussions - Rebecca Blood tips us to a Salon article exposing Annie's mac-n-cheese as no better for your kids than Kraft day-glo orange glop. I'm not surprised. My kids have been eating pasta with store-bought grated parmesan*, olive oil and sometimes plain yogurt since infancy. Sometimes I put a little leftover lentil soup in it. That's it. Why is this harder than a box of Annie's? It's certainly less processed.
*The kind that's relatively fresh-grated, in a plastic tub; *not* the cardboard filings in the green cylindrical shaker! If I were a true foodie I would grate the cheese myself, but soon after the birth of my second child I got sick of juggling cheese graters and children, and have used pre-grated cheese ever since.
And another, off-line bit of advice from Marion Nestle, the great food advocate, corporate gadfly, and nutritionist: since commercially flavored yogurts are so laden with sugar, fillers and dyes that they are more like bad desserts than "healthy" food, why not serve your children plain yogurt flavored with a bit of jam or even some white sugar? They'll be eating far less sugar than they normally would in the typical serving of flavored yogurt. This is from her book, What to Eat.
I've been feeding the offspring plain yogurt with a dot of vanilla and a half teaspoon of sugar for dessert. They think it's such an amazing treat...
|lo-fat plain yogurt||8 oz||154|
|Total home sweetened yogurt||8 oz||170|
|Lo-fat vanilla yogurt||8 oz||208|
|Lo-fat fruit yogurt||8 oz||250|