How Can Your Family Celebrate National Nutrition Month?
It’s time to focus on healthy eating!
National Nutrition Month, an annual March event created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, focuses on efforts to help families develop healthier eating and physical activity habits. In honor of this year’s theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” here are just a few easy ways your family can participate throughout March and work to eat more mindfully during 2017.
Make Breakfast a Priority
March 6-10 marks another important March event: National School Breakfast Week. This weeklong celebration is meant to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program, which allows all school children to receive a nutritious breakfast at school every single day.
Why is breakfast so important? Breakfast is an opportunity for kids to get their fill of important nutrients and has been proven to increase alertness and improve school performance.
If you choose not to take advantage of school breakfast, make sure to offer your children healthy and hearty breakfast options at home before they head off to school. Need some fresh ideas? Check out these traditional and more creative breakfast ideas that your kids are sure to enjoy.
Educate Your Children Early
Learning healthy eating habits has no age requirement. In fact, teaching your children about proper nutrition as soon as possible can help to ensure that they grow up to be strong, healthy adults. If you’re not sure exactly how to teach your children about nutrition in a way they can understand, we recommend these two ideas:
- Have them visit ChooseMyPlate.gov, which is full of helpful kid-friendly resources about making informed food choices as well as fun learning activities like this “Draw Your Healthy MyPlate Meal” coloring page.
- Keep it simple by teaching them to distinguish between “Go, Slow and Whoa” foods, where “Go” foods are healthiest and “Whoa” foods should be avoided. Find a complete description and lists of foods that belong in each category here.
Get Kids Involved in the Process
Cooking your kids healthy meals is great, but getting your kids involved in the kitchen is even better. Two easy ways to get your children to participate in creating your family’s meals include:
- Taking them food shopping – use this opportunity to give your kids a tour of the grocery store or farmer’s market; make sure to point out where they can find nutritious foods and explain to them why you’re choosing certain items
- Giving them the reins – this can take many forms including letting your kids choose healthy recipes, allowing them to help you cook, and even giving them the opportunity to prepare their own healthy snacks
If you need some help deciding what to cook with your children, check out these easy, yet nutritious recipes created specifically for your chefs-in-training.
Incorporate Lead-Fighting Foods
In addition to helping your children grow into healthy adults, proper nutrition can also protect your children from lead poisoning. Keeping your children’s bellies full of healthy food and beverages will make it more difficult for them to absorb lead and other potentially harmful substances. A diet high in lead-fighting foods should include:
- Vitamin C – found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and spinach
- Iron – found in green, leafy vegetables, iron-fortified cereals, lean meat, fish, poultry, and beans
- Calcium – found in kale, papaya, tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, and strawberries
Ensuring that your children drink a sufficient amount of lead-free water is also vital for proper nutrition and healthy growth. Though water consumption depends on age, height, weight, temperature, physical activity and a variety of other factors, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that children drink an average of 6 to 8 cups of water per day.
Make healthy eating a family priority during National Nutrition Month and beyond! For more information, please contact the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Program at (973) 372-4353.