You need “a little something,” but how can you make a healthy choice for your afternoon snack? Registered dietitian, Jill Fleming, offers a great strategy for making healthy choices. By understanding the difference between “grow foods” and “treats,” even kindergarteners can make a healthy choice. It is an easy trick and it works!
Grow foods are items on which the sun has recently shined. The more refined and processed something is, the farther from a “grow food” it becomes. Raw vegetables and fruits are great examples of “grow foods,” as are whole grains. These foods fuel your body; allowing young children to grow and adults to thrive. Read the label. If there are ingredients with more than three syllables – it isn’t a grow food. Keep an eye out for high fructose corn syrup (another source of sugar) and partially hydrogenated oils (the source of trans fat); these are ingredients to avoid.
Treats are items which may taste good, but aren’t going to help you grow or thrive. It is okay to have a cookie or some ice cream, but it should be a treat — something special and extra, outside what you give your body to grow and thrive. Treats are not limited to sweets. For example, salty and fried items such as chips have no nutritional value, yet can be quite tasty. Soda, even diet soda, is a treat.
So, go ahead and have a treat, but make good choices. Here are some tips to help you decide:
Avoid items with trans-fat, which your body never needs.
Limit treats to once a day or a few times per week.
Pay attention to the portion size. Split the giant cookie with a friend or save half for tomorrow.
Don’t replace meals with treats. A doughnut isn’t breakfast – it’s a treat.
Beware of sneaky treats. Some things look like grow foods but a really treats in disguise. Yogurt with high fructose corn syrup is more like pudding than a grow food.
Limit soda (and diet soda) to treat times. Don’t drink soda as your beverage with a meal. Give your body healthy beverages such as water, skim milk and herbal tea.
By choosing “grow foods” at meals and snacks, you can afford to give yourself a treat. Reserving your treat for a glass of red wine and some good dark chocolate each night is enjoyable and can be heart healthy as well!
Treat yourself, but do it right!
Eliz Greene is a heart attack survivor, author and nationally known speaker on a mission to encourage women to recognize heart disease as their most serious health threat and provide down-to-earth strategies for active and healthy lives.