Building Stronger Futures with Healthy Food
By Monica Theis
We all need strong bodies and minds to create strong futures. This is especially true for children. The contribution that healthy foods make to strong muscles, bones, minds, and more is undeniable. Well-fed bodies perform better in the classroom, on the playground or on a sports team. MOM is committed to ensuring that children in our community have access to the foods best suited to provide the energy and nutrients needed for strong bodies and alert minds.
What exactly are the best foods for fuel and nutrients? Whole or minimally processed foods that include grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products are best. Examples, of whole or minimally processed grains include rolled oats, brown rice and even popcorn! Pieces of fresh fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas, and pears provide important nutrients such as vitamins A and C and minerals such as potassium. The same holds true for vegetables. Fresh carrots or pieces of fresh broccoli deliver the most nutrients per calorie compared to highly processed options. Lean proteins include both animal and plant-based options. Choose lean poultry, beef or pork. Plant-based options include beans, legumes and nuts.
Does this mean that canned, frozen, and packaged foods are “unhealthy” and should be avoided? Not necessarily. However, careful review of labels is essential to ensure that the benefits of the available nutrients are not delivered with excessive sugar, sodium and fat. For example, canned vegetables are a good choice to boost vegetable consumption. Some, however, are prepared with sodium so be sure to look for products that state “low sodium” or “packed in water”.
The MOM food pantry has many options to build a meal pattern that emphasizes whole, nutrient dense foods. Start by planning meals around these food recommendations. Select the foods you need at the pantry and then, enjoy healthy tasty meals with friends and family.
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