How your family can eat healthy, happy, and without breaking the bank

Don't sweat "healthy" fads; Eating smart is key
Posted at 5:20 AM, Mar 14, 2017

This has been a confusing time for healthy eating. The Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting last week to discuss the definition of "healthy" in the 21st century. Chelsea Clinton tweeted jarring pictures of "healthy" spinach pancakes that were nothing short of barftastic. And we found out that Kind Fruit & Nut bars -- which I love, and thought were healthy -- were not allowed to use the word "healthy" because they were weren't healthy enough. Wait -- what?

So, where does that leave parents in charge of school lunches and family meals? 

Confused, that's where.

We called on Jamila Lepore, a nutrition expert for the University of Florida and Hillsborough County -- and who also has a Website called NoNonsenseNutritionist -- to cut through the "healthy" clatter.

First of all, we established that you CAN eat Pop-Tarts. It's all part of the "80/20 Rule."

Eighty percent of your or your child's diet should be whole, or one ingredient, foods: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, whole grains, dairy. Nothing processed. Then, you get 20 percent of your diet in fun foods.

Everything in moderation. Portion control. You can eat your favorite brand of potato chips -- just not every day. Bring the kids to the grocery have them pick out fruits, vegetables and treats. 

"I like to use the 80-20 Rule," Lepore says. "If most of the time we're giving our kids nutritious foods -- then we have 20 percent wiggle room for chips. cookies, muffins."

Keep things smart and simple. And don't get caught up with fancy foods or diet fads. "It's very possible to eat healthy on a budget," says Lepore. If you can't afford fresh produce, try frozen. If not frozen, try canned. 

"The biggest thing is not getting sucked into a lot of specialty products, the diet foods, the brands that are only natural and organic," adds Lepore. It's more important to read the back of the packaging, the calorie count and such; the front is usually just advertising or fuzzed truths.

Eat smart. Eat healthy. Eat happy.