Discovery Point Blog
March is National Nutrition Month
Did you know that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has deemed March the National Nutrition Month®? This yearly campaign highlights the importance of making educated choices about what we put into our bodies and helps families form healthy eating habits that stick.
By getting the whole family involved in National Nutrition Month, you can promote the well-being of the ones you love. Best of all, it’s easy to get children to participate as you set manageable goals and make small changes that add up to an overall healthier lifestyle.
Making Nutrition Count: A Step-by-Step Guide
The National Nutrition Month campaign is all about taking baby steps in the right direction, rather than jumping into a restrictive eating plan or overwhelming yourself with dietary facts.
That’s why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has come up with a step-by-step guide to help you and your family focus on healthier food choices each day.
Step One: It’s All About Variety
Start small and take a look at your family’s current diet. Does your family eat nutritious foods from all of the food groups on a daily basis? Make an effort to ensure you are hitting all the food groups during the day.
This can be hard when children are picky eaters. But it’s important to encourage them to eat a wide variety of foods and expose them to new tastes and textures regularly. That’s why we love the “no, thank you bite” concept. Before children can say no to a new food, they must have one bite to consider if they like it. If they are not a fan of this new food, they can say “no, thank you.”
Want to make a game of it? Try the toddler tasting tray idea in this blog. While this blogger uses it as a way to give kids lots of healthy options. We like the idea of having the whole family try each option and talk about what they like and don’t like and, most importantly, why.
Step Two: Plan for Success
When it comes to eating healthy on a regular basis, meal planning can go a long way. If your family has a busy lifestyle, planning out your meals for the week can mean the difference between enjoying a nutritious dinner and rushing to grab take-out. Meal planning can also help you introduce new foods into your children’s diet using different flavors and cooking methods.
Planning your weekly meals before you go to the grocery store makes it easy to ensure you have all the ingredients you need on hand. For ideas on how to get started, check out this site that offers meal planning ideas with the grocery list.
Step Three: Up the Ante on Home Cooking
Don’t expect yourself to be a top chef right from the start—practice makes perfect with cooking. But don’t let that stop you from making home-cooked meals. For busy weeknights, plan on easy meals that won’t stress your schedule. Breakfast for dinner is a favorite no matter your age. It’s fast, easy, and customizable so each member of the family gets what he or she wants.
Make it a priority to learn new cooking techniques and proper food safety methods to ensure you feel confident in the kitchen. Keeping your pantry stocked with healthy ingredients can help make it easier to whip up a home-cooked meal when you’re short on time.
Looking for ideas? Check out these 85 30 minute meal ideas found here.
Step Four: Consult with Experts
Now that you know the basics of healthful eating, you may want to get personalized advice from your doctor or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to fill in any knowledge gaps that you have.
Speaking with a dietitian can also be helpful if any of your family members have specific dietary concerns or allergies. This can also be extremely helpful for creating meal plans that work with your family’s tastes and schedule.
Check out this blog for ideas and advice on healthy eating and nutrition for families.
Getting Children Involved in the Kitchen
One of the best ways to show children how important it is to eat a healthy diet is to get them involved in the process of preparing their own meals and snacks.
Take a look at some quick meals and snacks that your child can help you prepare:
- Quick smoothies. All it takes is some milk, frozen fruit, and a blender to create a delicious smoothie.
- Yogurt parfaits. Your child can enjoy creating beautifully presented parfaits by layering yogurt with fruit and cereal in a glass.
- Quesadillas. Top a tortilla with shredded cheese and fold in half before heating in the microwave or on the stove.
- Ants on a log. A child-friendly classic, this treat is full of fiber. Simply have your child smear nut butter or cream cheese onto celery sticks and then top with raisins.
- Miniature pizzas. Most children love pizza in almost any form—especially if they get to help prepare it! In this rendition, you can use toasted English muffins as the base for quick and easy clean-up.
You may also want to restrict eating to areas where children aren’t distracted by the television or electronic devices. Not only does this help with portion control, but it also makes it more likely that children will have a fuller sensory experience as they eat and develop a greater appreciation for different foods.
These small changes can help your family take the first steps in the right direction for a healthier year. When practiced consistently, these steps lead to increased energy, a more balanced diet, and an improved relationship with the food you eat.