Busy mothers with little time to plan well-balanced meals for themselves and their families may be needlessly trading off good nutrition to save time.
Skipping meals leads to reduced alertness, poor job performance, and, over time, deteriorated health from nutrient deficiencies, according to Gretchen Newmark, registered dietitian, and a consulting nutritionist in Santa Monica with the Dairy Council of California.
"The 3-in-1 foods, those that are high in basic nutrients, easy to prepare and eat, and economical, can help round out a diet while providing nutrients and calories necessary for a healthy, active life style," Newmark said.
For example, in the dairy food group--one of the four food groups, which also includes meats, fruits and vegetables and breads and cereals--women who consume less than three servings each day are likely to be cheating themselves of sufficient calcium.
Low-fat milk, a 3-in-1 food, supplies calcium, necessary to prevent osteoporosis later in life, Vitamin D to help the body absorb that calcium and a balanced proportion of carbohydrates and fat calories, which provide energy and a feeling of satiety.
Dairy foods make excellent 3-in-1 foods because they are easy to consume, especially if you are trying to grab breakfast in a hurry, or can be stored in the refrigerator at work for fast consumption later.
Broccoli, also a 3-in-1 food, contains Vitamin A, potassium and provides extra fiber to the diet. It is easy to prepare as a side dish, or can be served raw as an appetizer. Bananas, also a good source of complex carbohydrates, are probably the best source of potassium, and are easily carried along during a busy day.
Whole-grain breads, eaten plain, as toast, or in a sandwich, provide complex carbohydrates for energy, fiber and an assortment of B vitamins.
"By grabbing a 3-in-1 food instead of skipping a meal when pressed for time, you help your body keep fortified with the nutrients and calories it needs for good performance and decision making," Newmark said.
"Selecting 3-in-1 foods gives you a measure of nutritional insurance when time is tight and you can't prepare a meal for yourself," she said. "It also helps keep your food budget down because these basic foods are more economical than using packaged or precooked foods."
"A carton of yogurt or cheese and crackers will help keep your mind on the job, not an otherwise growing stomach, and you will feel good because you have given your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy," Newmark said.