Summer is winding down and schedules are picking up. How are you going to fuel your student, athlete and family?
When it comes to choosing an eating style that works for you, and the whole family, there are many choices. Most healthy diets have a lot in common: they incorporate a variety of nutrient-rich foods, emphasize high-quality protein sources, encourage plenty of vegetables and fruit, and are balanced with fiber-rich, quality carbohydrates. Beef plays an essential role in many healthy diets as an authentic high-quality protein with ten essential nutrients like iron, zinc and B-vitamins.
MyPlate depicts what a balanced plate should look like.There are five food groups. Your plate should be composed of ½ fruits and veggies, ¼ protein and ¼ carbohydrates and 8 oz of low fat dairy. Look at the picture above, what do you see? Notice the colorful foods, appropriate portion sizes, and all food groups represented. However, it won’t always look like this. It could also look as fast and easy as a 1 pot meal, sheet pan dinner, or 30 min meal. Think variety and balance!
YOU decide what works best for YOUR family and fits in YOUR schedule. How do you work this into your busy schedule? Plan, Prepare, and cook. This will look different for everyone. Pick a day of the week or weekend when you have a little extra time to sit down and plan out your week. Soon it will feel like less and less of your time and the repetition will come naturally!
If you need a starting place, use this shopping guide as a tool to help you create a grocery list and navigate the grocery store.
It may be overwhelming to plan all meals at first. Start by planning your breakfast for a week. Think outside the box on this one. You have heard of breakfast for dinner, try dinner for breakfast. Use leftover steak or ground beef from last night’s dinner to add protein to your eggs. Spacing your protein out throughout the day and getting in at least 25-30g/meal has proven to help maintain muscle mass, keep you fuller longer and experience less cravings for sweet snacks later in the day. Use this protein pantry list to help mix and match proteins and get in those 25g.
Enjoying a variety of foods and building a balanced plate is the foundation for healthy eating.
Let’s sum it up!
- Building a balanced plate:
- Anchor your plate with protein, like lean beef.
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies.
- Make about ¼ of your plate grains.
- Include 8 oz. of low fat or fat free dairy.
- Make ¼ of your plate protein, and aim for about 25 grams per meal. An example of about 25 grams of protein is a 3 oz. cooked portion of beef.
- A 3 oz. cooked serving of lean beef provides 10 essential nutrients in around 170 calories, less than 10 grams of total fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol.
- Plan ahead, repeat if necessary, shake it up with simple recipes, or batch cooking. Remember, planning breakfast for a week is a great place to start. Here are some breakfast ideas.
It will be work at first and it’s okay to order pizza or fast food during those super busy days, but don’t make it the norm and try to eat out less and less each week. Make it fun! Remember – Variety and balance.
Learn more about each food group at FuelYourFun.org
Here’s to a happy and nutritious school year.