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Get tips on how your family can eat healthier

February 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Whether you want to exercise more or eat well, making small changes will help you stick with it. But all is not lost if you've fallen into some bad patterns. Karim Fugel makes sure her home is stocked with nutritious choices, and she leaves them all in plain sight.

"We make sure that the healthy snacks are just at the kids' fingertips, so that it is very easy, easily accessible for them to reach for and grab," said Fugel.

A few simple changes can help you put your family on a healthier track. Consumer Reports Food and Fitness special issue says start by giving vegetables a starring role.

"Many of us were brought up on meat and potatoes, but shift your focus," said Gayle Williams, from Consumer Reports. "Instead of saying 'I've got pork chops, what can I do with them?' Say, 'I've got great green beans, what can I do with them?'"

And vegetables are a great source of antioxidants and fiber, and pretty cost effective. As a general rule, they should fill half your plate. Divide the other half between whole-grains and a lean protein, such as fish.

"Fish is a nutritional powerhouse, but you might want to avoid certain species that are very high in mercury, such as swordfish and some types of tuna," said Williams.

And try eating like the Greeks. The Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to heart-healthy benefits, is rich in fish, olive oil, and fresh vegetables. It's one of the smartest approaches to eating. Also try switching to low-fat dairy, which still delivers a healthy dose of calcium and vitamin D.

"If your family is used to drinking whole-fat milk, start by mixing it with one-percent," said Williams. "Wish your family drank more milk? Try adding powdered milk to recipes."

One of the easiest ways to make sure you get more nutrition with fewer calories is to make sure you add a fruit and a vegetable to every meal and every snack.