Could your daily diet use a makeover? According to chef extraordinaire Jamie Oliver, there are a few simple changes you should make today.
- Know what you’re eating. In addition to making school lunches healthier, Oliver wants to help Americans become savvier about food — including where it comes from and how it affects your body. He emphasizes fresh, locally grown foods instead of packaged, processed ones that may contain filler ingredients with no nutritional value. Although it may be cheaper or easier to load your freezer with ready-to-serve foods, Oliver encourages families to invest in their health and take the time to cook fresh meals as often as possible. If frozen chicken nuggets are one of your grocery-list staples, for example, consider making your own with fresh chicken cutlets. Offer the kids oatmeal for breakfast instead of pop-in-the-toaster pastries.
- Don’t obsess over fancy food labels. Sustainable, organic, free range: While these are all hot trends now in the food world, Oliver would rather see families just focus on buying more fresh foods than get caught up in deciphering such “healthy” labels.
- Cook with your kids. Eating meals as a family has proven benefits (studies have shown kids who eat with their families get better grades and are less likely to use drugs and alcohol than those who don’t), but preparing meals together may be even better. Cooking can encourage kids to try healthy ingredients they otherwise wouldn’t touch and teach them about proper portion sizes. It’s also a fun way for you to bond. And you’ll arm teens with skills they can use to prepare healthy meals after they’ve flown the coop for college or to live on their own. Give each kid their own age-appropriate job: For example, little ones can rinse vegetables while older kids saute them.