Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
The Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ program is all about making small changes in behavior that produce large benefits over time. Want to take some small steps to better health? Below are five strategies that families can follow toward a healthier lifestyle:
Serve healthy foods at meals each day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Make sure foods ordered for take-out are not fried and high in fat salt and sugar. Eat plenty of salads, vegetables, and fruits along with whole grains and fat-free dairy.
Offer ONLY healthy foods for snacks and morning or afternoon coffee breaks each day. Make sure snacks at meetings or those sent to school with kids are mostly fruit, vegetables, plain cookies or crackers, low-fat cheese or other toppings for crackers, or baked chips.. Keep it simple and eat snacks that are low in calories and high in nutritional value.
Promote healthy foods and beverages at work, at home and at community meetings. Children need adults that are good role models and who make healthful food choices. When in charge of planning meals for events, choose healthy foods and eliminate high calorie, high fat, salty, or sugary foods. Adults need to practice what they preach.
Keep foods safe to eat. Make sure you wash your hands properly before eating or drinking and before handling any foods or beverages. Keep cooking surfaces clean and raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods separated. Make sure foods are chilled or heated to appropriate temperatures and serve hot foods hot and cold foods cold. For more food safety information, visit these Web sites: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/foodsafety and http://www.foodsafety.gov
Lead by example. As a parent, community leader, or family member, it is important that adults set a good example for others. Be concerned about the health of the group and challenge them to be physically active daily, along with making healthy food choices. Try our Small Steps to Health and Wealth ™ Challenge. See http://njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/challenge for details. Buy healthy foods in the supermarket or in a restaurant when dining out. Make sure you “walk the talk” with your family, friends, and co-workers. For more tips on good nutrition and healthy habits visit the Rutgers Cooperative Extension health and nutrition Web site at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/health.