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Eating Better

While you may think that salad is a healthy lunch option, it could be loaded in calories and fat. Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby Magazine, has some tips for eating better.

Many parents are looking to eat their meals quickly, and that can sometimes lead to unhealthy food decisions. Salads can be especially deceptive. While it may look healthy with all those veggies, some salads are particularly high in calories and fat. "Croutons, cheese, even dried cranberries... put it all together and you could have had a Bic Mac," says Kelly.

Keep a salad healthy by cutting the fat and including at least two proteins in the ingredients. "Egg whites, chicken, fish, turkey... unlimited vegetables and then watch the dressing," says Kelly.

Another lunch classic - tuna - is, by itself, a very healthy food. But when it's weighed down with full-fat mayonnaise or cheese, this nutrient-packed fish can become a diet downfall. Try to buy tuna that's packed in water instead of oil, and if you make a tuna melt, try using a low-fat cheese and whole grain bread.

Don't rely on low-fat diet meals for lunch either. Many of these meals don't have enough calories to sustain you until dinner time, which may lead to unhealthy snacking or overeating later on. "[The meal] has 250 calories and you think, "great!" but then an hour later, you're starving," says Kelly. Many microwave meals are also high in sodium.

If your favorite microwave meal is pasta, try spicing up classic mac and cheese instead. Substitute the milk and butter with low-fat cottage cheese and add veggies to make this favorite a little more nutritionally sound.

Another lunch-time mistake is too much grazing. While some studies show that eating small meals throughout the day can be healthy, too much grazing and nibbling on the wrong foods can be a lunchtime nightmare. That leftover eggroll, a few cookies, some pudding - it all adds up.

Kelly suggests picking your grazing foods beforehand. "Put it all on a plate and just eat from the plate so you can keep track of what you're eating," she says. Eat a variety of foods, such as peanut butter on a whole wheat muffin, fruit and some yogurt. "It's kind of sweet, so that should satisfy you," says Kelly. Be sure to top it all off with plenty of water to drink.

For more information on this and other parenting advice, click here.

By Erin Petrun

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