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In a recent study conducted by Whole Foods Market, 65% of millennials who responded said they prefer to buy responsibly sourced brands and products, and 52% of the group said they would pay extra for high-quality, healthy ready-made meals.

Fortunately for millennials and others of us, older and younger, who appreciate meals that we can pick up on our way home — other than unhealthy fast foods — there are several places in town to find them.

* Vibrant Meals, 601 Cherokee Blvd., offers a range of grab-and-go meals, such as vegan chili with cashew cheese, chicken marsala and skirt steak bok fry, among others. The complete menu can be found at myvibrantmeals.com.

* Earth Fare, with locations in Hixson and in the Hamilton Place area, offers foods free of all those bad things we shouldn't consume — antibiotics, high-fructose corn syrup, hormones and the like. So stop by the deli and pick up a delicious salad of kale and Brussels sprouts, and pair it with some roasted butternut squash with maple and sage and some Thai chili chicken on skewers. Sounds to me like a great meal filled with regional flavors.

* Whole Foods, 301 Manufacturers Road, you'll find such prepared foods as Thai broccoli salad, butternut squash crab bisque and shrimp jambalaya, among the more-popular items.

According to information from Huel, maker of a variety of healthy powders and ready-to-drink beverages, eating the rainbow, referring to eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, offers numerous benefits, including providing lycopene — that's the stuff that makes tomatoes red — which protects against cell damage as we age. A plant-based diet also provides plenty of carotenoids — those make carrots orange and yellow peppers yellow. Carotenoids, too, help guard against cell damage.

Be sure to eat fish at least once a week, and if you're not a fan of fish, get your Omega 3's by eating walnuts, soy or flaxseed.

Keep your iron up with dark, leafy greens, nuts and dried fruits, and don't forget about your vitamin B12, an important nutrient that will boost your red blood cell count. Look for products that are fortified with B12 or take a supplement, Huel advises.

Millennials get a bad rap sometimes, but we should praise them for realizing the importance of a healthier diet. Maybe their good health decisions will be passed on to generations to come, because, according to the recently released State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America from the Trust for America's Health, Tennessee ties for 30th in the country when it comes to the number of our children who are obese or overweight. According to the study, 20.5% of high school students in the state are obese and 17.5% are overweight. The Trust for America's Health goes even deeper into the country's obesity epidemic by taking a look at toddlers and elementary-age children. A whopping 14.9% of Tennessee's low-income children ages 2-4 are obese, and 15.6% of children ages 10-17 in all economic levels are obese. Only 24.5% of children ages 6-17 get an hour of exercise daily.

What can you as a parent or grandparent do? Follow guidelines established by the USDA's MyPlate program.

* Focus on whole fruits — berries in pancakes, fresh fruit on whole-grain breakfast cereals and dried fruit in hot oatmeal.

* Vary the veggies by cooking a variety and making extra for later to use in soups, stews and pasta dishes.

* Vary your protein routine by adding new proteins, such as shrimp or chicken to tacos on taco night.

* Make half your grains whole grains, like adding brown rice to stir-fries.

* Move to low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Buy plain, unflavored yogurt, and add nuts and fruit to get in two more food groups.

* Drink and eat less sodium.

* Nix the sodas and other drinks and foods with added sugars.

Once you start eating this way, you'll realize a new way of life that will make you feel better — and so will the kids. It's a good way to start off 2020.

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Anne Braly

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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