Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States.
Obesity prevalence among children and adolescents is still too high, putting children and adolescents at risk for poor health. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.
Get Your Kids Involved
Celebrate the month by teaching kids the importance of food, nutrition and eating skills: food to fuel busy, successful lives; nutrition to nourish strong bodies and smart brains; and eating skills to enjoy the social aspect of meals with family and friends.
How to get your kids involved: This one is fun for everyone and it can happen anywhere — your kitchen, the grocery store or a community garden. Every trip through the supermarket can be a nutrition lesson. Kids can learn to categorize food into groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein foods. They can choose new foods they want to try, including picking out a new fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit each trip. As children get older, they can help plan the menu at home and then pick out the foods to match the menu items while shopping.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes!
4 ways to help you provide your children with more nutritious options:
These small adjustments will make sure your kids are developing healthy eating habits that will carry them into adulthood. It might be time to make some changes, but don’t worry if your kids don’t take to eating a perfectly balanced diet right away.
1. Make Mealtime Meaningful
We all have busy schedules, but taking the time to sit down together for a family meal can have a huge impact on your kids’ relationship with food.
They can see you eating, and enjoying, healthy options. If you have older kids who are busy with school, sports, and friends, family mealtimes will give you the opportunity to see how your kids are eating and enable you to encourage them to make healthier choices.
2. Take Baby Steps
New habits aren’t formed overnight. Don’t feel like you have to swap out all of your kids’ meals for more nutritious options all at once:
- Add in one more serving of vegetables per day. Then, after a few weeks, start adding one more serving of vegetables per meal.
- Swap out white rice for brown rice or cauliflower rice, or regular pasta for 100% whole wheat pasta.
- Switch from whole milk to low-fat milk.
- Drink more water and limit juices and sodas.
3. Balance is Best
Limit sugary options and junk food but don’t put them off limits entirely. Allowing your children to occasionally indulge in a sweet or salty treat won’t do much harm. Cutting them off altogether could cause them to go overboard the next time they are at a friend’s house and you’re not there to help them make a healthier choice.
Instead, teach your kids that a nutritious diet is about balance. You can have a slice of cake for dessert, but you have to eat some veggies too.
4. Have Healthy Options On-Hand
Keep fresh fruit and veggies stocked in your kitchen. Even better if it’s where you kids can see it.
Be prepared for the week by making little snack bags of things like baby carrots, sliced apples, or homemade trail mix.
Keep the junk food tucked away or simply don’t buy it. Out of sight, out of mind.
What Does a Healthy Plate Look Like?
It is very important that your child gets the proper amount of calories and nutrients in order for him/her to function at an optimum level. The amount of calories and servings of food that your child needs every day is based on several factors; age, gender and activity level.
The more active your child is, the more calories he or she needs. Males generally need more than females and usually older children need more calories than younger children.