Nutritious meals are worth the time, money
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With proper planning, it does not have to cost extra time and money to provide each family member with half a plate of fruits and vegetables at mealtime.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate recommendation is for half our plates be filled with fruits and vegetables at every meal. The remaining 50 percent of the plate should include protein and grains (often meat and bread). USDA also promotes a serving of dairy.
“We want to make Mississippians more aware of the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet,” said Ginger Cross, assistant research professor at the Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center.
Cross is promoting the “WannaBee Healthy?” campaign, sponsored by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health.
“While an occasional hamburger or hotdog may not hurt you, a steady diet of them can lead to various health problems,” she said. “We know from our research that northeast Mississippi residents feel that time and money are big obstacles to healthy eating.”
Cross recommended nutrition ideas on the “WannaBee Healthy?” website at http://partnershipsforhealthychildren.com/.
The website has resources for easy and low-cost recipe ideas and grocery lists that can make healthy foods more practical to buy and prepare.
“By planning meals, shopping smart and using low-stress cooking practices, families and individuals can prepare balanced meals without breaking the bank,” Cross said.
Brent Fountain, human nutrition specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said obesity does not happen overnight and reversing that trend will take time.
“Efforts to reverse the obesity trends will have to take place in many different areas, including the home, at school, at work and in our communities,” Fountain said. “Education is important, but education is not enough if what is learned cannot be acted on.”
Fountain said people need access to safe places to exercise and opportunities to find a wide variety of healthful foods.
“Even if education is prominent in a community and citizens are willing to make changes, these obesity trends will continue if they don’t have safe, affordable opportunities,” he said.
Fountain said fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone of healthy diets.
“Don’t let busy schedules cause skipped meals or unhealthy fast options. Incorporate healthy snacks into a daily routine,” he said. “Plan ahead to avoid last-minute food decisions and poor dining choices.”