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I will be the first to admit that our family could probably make some healthier choices when it comes to our food selection. We’re not a family that eats only organic, fresh food and we also don’t exclude food in our house based on certain ingredients. We do cook quite a bit and enjoy home-made meals, but we do take shortcuts many times. In no way am I saying that we eat junk all the time. I’m just saying that we are not super-picky about what we buy. We definitely enjoy eating, enjoy good food, and generally go by the “in moderation” rule.
That said, we do try our best to limit the amount of sodium and fat in any pre-packaged foods we buy – especially because there is a history of high blood pressure and heart disease on my side of the family. If there’s a low-sodium version of the same food, I buy it instead of the regular. I also try to look for the lower-fat versions, as long as the calories aren’t increased, which often happens with low-fat or fat-free foods.
I was glad to find out from a recent study funded by ConAgra Foods, that brands who have the term “healthy” in their name are held to a higher nutrition standard by the FDA. The Healthy Choice brand of ConAgra Foods is the only major brand in its category that can call all of their products healthy by the FDA definition. That means that all their meals must be:
- low in fat
- low in saturated fat
- controlled in sodium and cholesterol
- and must supply at least 10% of the daily value for three beneficial nutrients (calcium, protein, fiber, iron, vitamin A or vitamin C)
As someone that a) works from home and b) has a newborn, I’ve had too many days in the past few months where I’ve skipped lunch simply because I was too busy with the kids, work, or just plain lost track of time. Frozen meals often work for me because I can easily heat them up and at least I don’t miss any meals. It also helps that they are pre-portioned, since serving size is something I have trouble gauging.
As part of this campaign, I was asked to try a couple of Healthy Choice meals. I sampled the Beef Teriyaki Café Steamers meal and the Marinara Manicotti Formaggio from the Complete Meals line. I appreciate that both include quick nutritional information on the front of the box and list how many calories the meal has. Aside from personal preference and preferred flavors, it definitely helped me in choosing one meal over the others when I could easily see key nutritional information. A plus was that both meals had vegetables and whole-grains.
Though I know that our family still has some work to do before we can say that we lead a healthy lifestyle, I can also celebrate the small healthy choices we already make. Things like adding vegetables to our home-cooked meals, reducing the amount of sodium in foods (home-cooked or pre-packaged), and enjoying fresh fruit.
What healthy choices do you and your family make?