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Overcome Any Obstacle to Eating Right

How Healthy Are Your Family Dinners?

1. Which best describes the color of the food on your family's plate?

a) Varying shades of beige (chicken and rice)

b) Beige (chicken and rice), and a bit of green (a few broccoli florets)

c) Red, green and yellow (vegetable medley) with some beige (chicken)

Best answer: C. A rainbow of color means everyone is getting lots of produce. Plus, introducing variety can boost veggie intake by more than half a serving, according to new Penn State research.

2. What do your kids snack on before dinner?

a) Sliced red peppers and cucumbers with hummus

b) Crackers and chips

c) Nothing—it'll ruin their appetite

Best answer: A. You eat 47% more of the food that you serve yourself first at a meal, finds Cornell University. Give kids the chance to munch on crudités before dinner to sneak in an extra serving of veggies.

3. How many times a week do you serve fish?

a) Never—my kids won't eat it

b) Twice a week

c) A few times per month

Best answer: B. Skipping fish may mean your kids are deficient in an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, a nutrient that can improve reading scores, says a recent study. If they absolutely won't eat fish, try foods fortified with DHA, like soy milk, cow's milk or eggs.

4. How often do you cook with spices?

a) Not much because my kids prefer plain foods

b) Only if a recipe calls for a specific spice

c) I try to sprinkle them on everything

Best answer: C. Spices can easily add nutrition, so use them frequently. Add turmeric, an anti-inflammatory, to rice or jarred marinara sauce. Red pepper flakes (for the adults) have been shown to boost metabolism; sprinkle in soups, stews and chili. Blood-sugar-regulating cinnamon is great on popcorn, on oatmeal or in smoothies.

5. What's a good source of protein besides meat?

a) Tofu

b) Some vegetables

c) Beans and legumes

Best answer: All the above. Children ages 9 to 18 need between 34 and 52 grams of protein daily. Look beyond chicken nuggets and burgers with a serving of tofu (9 grams of protein), a cup of asparagus (3 grams), a cup of cubed butternut squash (2 grams) or a half cup of lentils (9 grams).

Originally published in the February 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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