Eat plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Deeply colored fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, peaches, and berries tend to be higher in vitamins and minerals than others. Beans, peas, oranges, bananas, strawberries, and apples are good sources of fiber.
Select fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk. Choose fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses. Use egg whites or egg substitutes instead of egg yolks. Choose soft margarines that contain “0 grams trans fat” instead of buying butter.
Eat one serving of grilled or baked fish at least twice a week. Good examples include salmon, trout and herring. Choose lemon juice and spices to eat with fish – not cream sauces. Buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime”, and be sure to trim off the fat before cooking. Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein but eat in moderation as they tend to be high in calories.
Choose breads containing whole wheat, oats, oatmeal, whole rye, whole grain corn, and buckwheat. Instead of bakery products, look for fat-free or low-fat and low-sodium crackers, snack chips, cookies, and cakes.
Buy and use fats and oils in limited amounts. Choose dressings and spreads with the lowest saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol including canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. Buy a nonstick pan and use nonstick vegetable spray when cooking.
Avoid prepackaged seasoning mixes as they contain high levels of salt. Use vinegar or citrus juice as flavor enhancers but add them at the last minute. Add some fresh hot peppers for a kick to your dishes.
Start by introducing healthier elements into foods that your picky eater already likes. Include kids in grocery shopping and food preparation – ownership in the process results in the picky eater being more likely to eat the meal. Schedule snack time and stick to it – keep in a routine. Have healthy finger foods available. Encourage kids to “eat their colors” – brightly colored foods provide more nutrients in greater variety. Do not cut out treats altogether – think moderation.
Obesity (20% or more above your ideal weight) raises blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, decreases circulation, increase likelihood for developing diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and sleep apnea. Even when there are no adverse effects on the known risk factors, obesity by itself increases risk of heart disease.