Extension Education Highlight: Nutrition security
Sariah Israelsen: You're listening to USU Extension Educational highlight. I'm Sariah Israelsen and joining me today is Palak Gupta, USU Extension specialist in hunger solutions and assistant professor in the department of nutrition dietetics and food sciences. She's going to talk with us today about nutrition security. Welcome!
Palak Gupta: Thanks, Sariah.
Sariah Israelsen: So there are differences in food security and nutrition security. Food Security means you have enough food. And nutrition security means you have enough of a good diet through the foods that you're eating.
So can we talk a little bit about nutrition security, with kids in particular? Because I feel like there are so many different options in kid's foods that say they're nutritious, and how can we make sure that we are giving the nutrition to our kids that they need?
Palak Gupta: I am glad you asked that question. Social media and marketing of food as healthy can make everything so confusing for the parents. On top of it, there are TV commercials and peer pressure that can influence kids towards non healthy food options.
Now you factor in the parent's hectic schedule, and kids activity routines, and it's no wonder that kid's diets are built around convenience and takeout food. So now the important question arises, as you mentioned, what foods can you provide your kids versus which foods to steer away from?
So when it comes to choosing healthy foods for kids, it is important to focus on nutrient dense options that provide essential vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds. When you're selecting a packaged food, always, always remember to read nutrition labels and ingredient list.
Look at the foods with minimal additives, low added sugar, and only recognizable ingredients. It is important to prioritize whole, unprocessed food as much as possible over packaged food. So fruits and vegetables are always a good option.
They are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibers and antioxidants. But if you're going towards packaged form of food, there are some reference points for parents, if they are like to eat healthy in the packet section.
So ideally, a healthy snack or a food should include two whole food groups. And when I say food groups, I mean whole grains, lean protein, low fat and fruits and vegetables. It should have less than six grams of sugar or less per serving, it should have less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving, and they should be low in saturated fat.
Sariah Israelsen: So with foods getting more expensive, can we switch to adults for a little bit and the whole family? How can people make sure that they are getting the nutrition that they need from the foods even when they're on a budget because they go for the more less expensive which are usually the less nutritious? So how can we stay nutritious with our foods even while on a tighter budget?
Palak Gupta: That's a great question. I know the first point which I'm going to say has been said too many times, but I'm just going to say it because it's so important. Plan your meals.
Create a weekly plan that includes a variety of nutritious ingredients. And this will allow you to make a shopping list based off what you need and reduce your impulse purchases and food waste. A good strategy is always to prepare meals with common ingredients for your weekly plan. You can use the same ingredient for multiple meals, and it doesn't have to taste the same.
Shop seasonal and local. Seasonal producers tend to be more affordable, high in nutrition and it's abundant and you can visit your local farmers market to get fresh produce at lower prices utilize frozen and canned products.
It's a big misconception that frozen fruits and vegetables are not as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables. They are equally nutritious and are actually more affordable. And they don't go away so soon because they don't expire pretty quickly.
When you're thinking about canned foods like beans and tomatoes they are budget friendly options. Just be mindful of purchasing no salt and low sodium options.
And for fruits, it's best to select those that come in water. And, when possible, cook from scratch. Pre-packaged and convenience food is expensive.
So opt for healthy cooking options by cooking from scratch and you can modify your ingredient that ways. So you have control over your ingredients and you can cook nutritious and cost effective.
Sariah Israelsen: That was Palak Gupta, USU Extension specialist in hunger solutions and assistant professor in the department of nutrition dietetics and food sciences. Thank you so much for talking with me today.
Palak Gupta: Thank you. It was a pleasure to talk to you about it.