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How to Overcome 5 Stumbling Blocks to Healthy Eating

We all know that healthy eating is as important as exercise—especially now. But it’s not always easy! Here are some tips for getting past some common stumbling blocks. Get new recipes, ideas and inspiration from the Naperville Park District and our community partners.

What is healthy eating?  Here’s a quick guide to healthy foods from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy eating is summarized here as follows:
•    Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
•    Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
•    Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
•    Stays within your daily calorie needs

One way to think of nutritious foods is to “eat the rainbow,” for example, include dark green vegetables, bright orange fruits, red tomatoes, etc. These colorful foods tend to be loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
 
Studies such as this one show that eating home-cooked meals almost always beats eating out when it comes to nutrition, leading to a healthier Body Mass Index (BMI), with lower risk for diabetes and heart disease. However, restaurants have a place in a healthy lifestyle, too! Especially as we cope with the pandemic, we want to support our local restaurants. Below are some ways to do so and make the most of the delicious food they offer.

5 stumbling blocks to healthy eating:

1. I don’t have time.  How to find time for healthy snacks and meals will look different for each person or household. Here are some tips that may be helpful:
•    This article describes some healthy options for restaurant take-out
•    Meal kits can save time, include healthy ingredients and expand your horizons. This article reviews 24 different meal kit services.
•    Believe it or not, home cooking can save time. This guide tells how. Consider these insights:
     o    Kitchen appliances such as a crock pot or Instant Pot can make cooking easier
     o    Prepping on your day off can save hours the rest of the week
     o    Try freezing chopped ingredients, cooked rice and leftovers for later use 
     o    Add healthy veggies and proteins to convenience foods
     o    Make cooking fun for the family (more on this below)

2.  I can’t afford it. Being in financial need and facing food insecurity are realities for many in our community. One local nonprofit, Loaves and Fishes Community Services, provides healthy food for clients, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Northern Illinois Food Bank posts healthy recipes and other resources including nutrition education on their website.
 
3. My kids are picky eaters. Involving children in preparing meals, grocery shopping, and gardening can help spark their interest in new foods. Toddlers can help stir, older children can help plan meals, wash and chop fruits and vegetables, snip herbs from the garden, make applesauce, smoothies and much more.
 
ChopChop Family, a national nonprofit organization, has a wealth of information to inspire and teach families how to cook and eat real food together.  On January 12, 2021, Stephanie Hurwitz, Test Kitchen & Office Manager at ChopChop Family, presented a webinar through FORWARD DuPage with tips and recipes to help families get started with cooking together.  Here are some take-aways:
•    If kids are involved in preparing new food, they are more likely to try it, as they are proud of their product.
•    Cooking creates opportunities for working as a team, building confidence, and having fun.
•    ChopChop Family has a library of recipes to try.
 
Try gardening at home, even with just a few pots of herbs or tomatoes. Or rent a garden plot at Naperville Park District’s Ron Ory Community Garden Plots, where families can learn to garden together, meet other gardeners and learn from others’ experience. New gardeners can reserve a garden plot in early spring each year. 
 
Take your children to the 95th Street Farmers Market on Thursdays in the summer to see the beautiful fruits and vegetables, organic products, and homemade items, and talk with farmers and vendors.
 
Check out this great resource from The Conservation Foundation: a list of vegetables that we can grow in Illinois, how to store and prepare them, and several tasty recipes, including kid-friendly recipes, for each one. For example, how about a Harry Potter Pumpkin Milkshake?

4. I’m bored with cooking. For me, one of the best cures for boredom with cooking is to try and succeed with a new recipe. A new cookbook can inspire you. My inspiration last year came from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa At Home. Or search online for a recipe with the main ingredients that you have on hand. A search for recipes or cookbooks will turn up many ideas at Naperville Public Library, and Edward-Elmhurst Health posts a long list of healthy recipes.

If you are a fitness member at Fort Hill Activity Center, you can receive a monthly e-newsletter with recipes such as Slow Cooker Vegetable Lasagna.

Ask a friend for his or her favorite recipes. Here is one from Lorie Piel, one of the gardeners who grows vegetables at the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots. It’s one of her favorite ways to cook zucchini harvested from her garden.

5. I’m out of the habit or don’t know where to start. 
•    Try one, simple new thing for the season you are in. For example, in winter try making soup, and adding whole grain bread and a side salad for dinner.  In summer, try a simple entrée salad for dinner, using a protein and whatever vegetables you have on hand.
•    Take some time to plan at least one meal/recipe before grocery shopping, so that you will have what you need.
•    Try “kitchen sink” recipes to which you can add whatever you have on hand, for example, soup, fried rice, quesadillas or frittatas. 
•    With kids, start small:
      o    Start with foods they already like, such as apples or carrots and add nut butter or humus
      o    Start teaching with simple kitchen tasks: stirring and measuring for preschoolers, cutting with plastic utensils, reading recipes. 
•    Celebrate your successes and give yourself a break. If you can find one dinner that everyone likes and that has better nutritional value, add that to your household menu and go from there.


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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
 
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
 
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
© 2021 Naperville Park District