Meet My New Family

I’ve adopted a family. By that, I mean that I’ve adopted a family who is interested in learning how they might eat healthier. That, of course, begins by better understanding how to make more nutritious choices in the supermarket. Like you, they have ideas about how they should eat better, move more and learn how to reduce their risk of future health problems. With me by their side and the Guiding Stars nutrition navigation program in their tool box, we are beginning their journey of better living. My “adopted” family of four and I are working together over the next several months to set goals that we can build upon to encourage lasting dietary change for their family.

A little bit more about them: Like many families, Mom has gone back to work, which has been an adjustment and makes for a very busy household. Dad is a fireman, with a sometimes odd schedule of his own that makes it hard for him to maintain a healthful diet. When he is off from work, he is responsible for the shopping, cooking and family logistics. Mom prefers not to cook and needs quick dinner ideas for when her husband is at the firehouse. Their shopping list often includes fresh fruits and vegetables as well as better snack alternatives, which are made with whole grain and free of artificial sugars. They were quick to tell me, however, that this doesn’t always mean that their kids choose these foods, especially the vegetables. When they do select a healthful snack, such as grapes or nuts, the portion is a concern. Healthwise, the parents are about normal weight and appear to get through their day with enough energy. Dad has diabetes, however, and his blood sugar levels have been very high (above 200). He is aware that he can’t continue with such high numbers, but other than being physically active on the hockey rink, he doesn’t really know where to start. His current knowledge about nutrition: “I went through that with a dietitian many years ago…” Clearly it’s time for a refresher.

Their children are adorable and excited to have a new “voice” helping them make better choices. Their twelve-year-old son is high energy and a hockey lover himself. He would like to add muscle and weight to his thin frame so that he can join a new hockey league next year. At age nine, their daughter is not as thin. She enjoys gymnastics but does not get regular physical activity. Her parents are working hard to engage her in club activities, such as ski club, which are helping her to move more. Both children have very specific food likes and dislikes, with sweets undoubtedly topping the little girl’s “like” list.

We had our first meeting the other day, and it included a supermarket tour on how to utilize the Guiding Stars nutritional navigation program to its optimum. As many times as the family had been to the store, they were not aware of what it meant to select a Guiding Star-rated product. The tour clarified the fact that Guiding Stars has already done the work for them: identifying foods lower in sugar and unhealthy fats, while also nutrient rich. They learned the number of Guiding Stars (one, two or three) indicate the good, better and best foods to look for and pick out to put in their cart. By the end of the tour, they were believers.

Produce / Lisa Williams / CC BY 2.0

It was eye-opening for Mom and Dad to learn that there were so many star-rated foods that were easy to prepare. Having the whole family together got the kids excited to try new foods. From a one Guiding Star-rated convenient simmer sauce (Stonehouse 27 Mild Tamarind and Garlic Cooking Sauce) for a quick, healthful meal to a simple bag of rainbow salad that will add color and crunch (thus allowing Mom and Dad to experiment with different kinds of greens), all were on board to try something new.

I helped to identify and emphasize healthful and quick after school snacks that the kids can make, which provide the right protein and fat so that the little boy can build up his muscles and the little girl can fill up before eating a whole box of Cheddar Bunnies. We streamlined their school lunch to make less work for Mom and Dad while also creating a higher quality meal and more nourished day.

Peak inside their lunch bags and you may find:

2 Guiding Star 100 Calorie Pack of Wholly Guacamole and a serving of baked corn chips

1 Guiding Star Hummus and a serving of baby carrots

A small bag of trail mix (made at home) with Guiding Star rated cereal, unsalted nuts, dried fruit and mini pretzels

1 Guiding Star Kashi Granola Bars

1 Guiding Star Triscuit crackers and a cheese stick

3 Guiding Star sandwich of Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Butter spread on whole wheat

I realize that this is just the start but I am looking forward to future meetings with my “family”. Like so many of us that are over scheduled and saturated with family logistics, they sometimes find healthful eating to be just “another thing to worry about.” The takeaway from our first day together is that making healthier choices doesn’t have to be hard or complicated and that there is something for everyone. I look forward to helping them discover more…stay tuned!